SHTF Scenario: What Is It And What Does It Look Like?

What Is A SHTF Scenario?

SHTF scenario is a term that’s gained a lot of popularity. Especially among preppers and people interested in prepping, and especially recently. What it stands for is “Sh** Hits The Fan”, which is a colorful phrase to describe a very bad situation. If you haven’t heard the phrase before, you probably get the mental image. In this article I’ll talk about some of the most popular theories on what’s finally going to hit and destabilize society. Pushing it to the point that the SHTF.

SHTF scenario aftermath

SHTF Scenario: Regional Disaster

Let’s kick it off with a very realistic example: Hurricanes. When a major hurricane is headed towards you, the government will issue evac orders. Normally, you’ll have some time to prepare. But this is a situation where having bug out bags and a game plan will really pay off. Let’s take this up a notch.

Not all regional disasters will give you advanced warnings. Major earthquakes and tsunamis come out of nowhere. And they can immediately throw a city into full chaos. This would certainly be considered a SHTF scenario, even though it’s just a local one. If you live on a fault line or a coast, you need to have a plan in place on where you’re going to go if something like this happens.

Nation-Wide Disasters

Let’s kick the natural disaster up another notch. Let’s talk country wide-disaster. If you’re read into this doomsday stuff one of the first things you learn about is Yellowstone. Underneath Yellowstone is a supervolcano. That supervolcano is due to erupt at any time, this is fact, not speculation. This science of course isn’t exact, so we don’t know when this will happen, or even if we’ll get any sort of warning. Unfortunately we also don’t know the extent of the damage when this will occur. Projections put the plume of ash alone from this eruption all the way east to Missouri.

Some estimates say that the resulting ash cloud could blot out the sun. Causing clouds for long enough to cause a nuclear-winter style cooling effect. That winter would wreak havoc on global supply lines and every society on the planet. A small meteor could have a similar effect. And we have absolutely no way of knowing when or where those could come from. This is a SHTF scenario that there really wouldn’t be a lot of “safe places” to go to. So you’d really need to have a plan for the continued survival of your and your family.

SHTF Scenario: Economic Collapse

SHTF scenarios don’t have to include some external natural event. Economic collapse is a very real possibility, one that we’ve seen in the relatively recent past. The great depression of the 1930’s resulted in unprecedented hardship. The financial system had to be completely reworked. This is just a local example, though. Economic collapses happen all too often around the world. And there’s no reason to think that something like this couldn’t happen to us in modern times.


Pandemics are another possible SHTF scenario. The Covid-19 crisis is a big deal, but it could have been a lot worse. The threat of biological terrorism is ever present. And the problem is that once the genie is out of the bottle on a seriously contagious and seriously deadly disease, it can’t be turned back. This was seen during the Black Death in Europe. Vast swaths of the population died and there was really no way of avoiding it. It worked its way through the population and you either were immune, you survived it, or you died.

SHTF Scenario: Man Made Disaster

Electromagnetic pulses could come from the sun, making them a natural occurrence. But they can also come from military weapons. A global reaching EMP would fry electronics across the world. And it would bring the grid as we know it down permanently. Power as we know it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

This brings us to the last SHTF scenario I’ll talk about here: war. It is a tragic reality that war rages across the globe every day. First world countries are not safe from this threat. We have been fortunate enough not to have seen a world war in over 80 years. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t numerous and very strong tensions between major world powers.

The world has been sitting on a powder keg since the cold war. If full scale war broke out between world powers, there’s not telling the extent of the damage. Since the invention of the nuclear bomb, the world has been afraid of a global nuclear war. A war of this scale would certainly constitute a SHTF scenario. And we’d all be lucky if we’re still around after to try and bug out.

There are a lot of possible scenarios that could mean you have to leave life as you know it behind. All you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

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Bug Out Vehicle: How To Get Out Of Dodge In One Piece

When you need to get from point A to point B, there are few situations that you wouldn’t be better off in a vehicle. That choice of a bug out vehicle can be important. If things start going south in a big way, there’s no telling what’s going to be between you and where you’re going.

I’m also not going to assume that you’ve got the money to have a separate car only for bugging out. If you did you could trick out any vehicle you want to be a dedicated survival machine. Most people don’t have that luxury. Your bug out vehicle needs to be something you can drive every day. And it is also something that will carry you through an emergency. For starters, let’s talk about the kinds of vehicles that’ll be good in an emergency.

Bug out vehicle SUV in the mountains.

Bug Out Vehicle SUV’s

These are probably the most versatile class of “bug out vehicles”. They’re one of the most common types of cars on the market and not for their emergency capabilities. They’re just good sturdy cars that can haul things and can do a little off road without losing their axles. If you’re concerned about having a bug out vehicle if the SHTF, an SUV is a good choice for you. Because, it’s a good choice for a car in general.

Pickup Trucks

These are another excellent choice when you want something you can depend on in an emergency. And it’ll also be a good car for your everyday use. Pickup trucks don’t have the greatest gas mileage but they’re comparable to SUV’s. If you’ve got a family you’ll want to look for one with decent space up front. But the storage space in the back will be unbeatable.

Bug Out Vehicle Campers

Campers are luxury vehicles. You can’t commute with them, the gas mileage isn’t good. They also can’t go off road very well. That said, they’re a home on wheels. If you’ve got the money to upkeep a camper then you’ve got a bug out location on wheels. Just make sure that you get a quality, durable camper that will stand up to emergency conditions. A great way to get these benefits with more mobility is by making a bug out van!


Motorcycles have maneuverability and gas mileage on their side, but not much else. You can fit enough gear for one person on one without too much trouble but these are not the vehicles for families. Not the mention that motorcycles are already dangerous to begin with. And any injury is going to be more serious in a survival situation.


These are worth mentioning in their own section separate from motorcycles. They’re cheap, effective, and they can get places that a car can’t. If you’re on your own you can easily get all your gear with you on a bike and it’s less dangerous than a motorcycle.

Bug Out Vehicle Boats

If you live on or near a body of water, a boat is a good thing to consider. If you’ve got a pontoon or larger boat it will have a lot of the benefits of a camper. Otherwise even a small motorboat can get you away from wherever you are quickly. If you do go for a bug out boat, you’ll definitely want to make sure you’ve got paddles and a raft. The last thing you want is to strand yourself in the middle of a lake without a paddle.

One of the most important things to plan for when choosing your bug out vehicle is the amount of space. This translates directly to your supplies. You will, of course, have space for your bug out bags. But you can store a lot of extra emergency gear in a Pickup or an SUV. Things you’ll want to consider are shelter building supplies, extra emergency food, spare car supplies and tools. You can also think of anything else that you can fit in there without compromising the car.

For the average person just trying to prepare for the worst, I recommend picking an SUV or a pickup for your bug out vehicle. These cars will keep you rolling and let you pack up a lot in advance so when the going gets rough you can just hop in and go!

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Best Weather Radio – All Hand-Crank!

Emergency radios are one of the most important pieces of survival equipment you can have. They can’t be replicated with bushcraft or natural tools.  In the case of many disasters, power and communications might go down. If you’ve got your own hand-crankable radio, you’ll stay connected. This is why picking the best weather radio is so crucial. In some instances, information about disaster movement could very well mean your life! 

Below I’ve put together a collection of the best hand-crank weather radios I could find. I tried to pull from different categories so no matter your situation, you’ll be able to find the right one for you. It’s a crucial part of your bug out bag!

Best Budget Weather Radio – Esky 3W

Best Budget Weather Radio - Esky 3W

This radio is the perfect example to show that you don’t need to empty your wallet to do some solid prepping. With the yellow model coming in at $20 and the red even lower, this radio is a steal!

This radio has two ways to charge, solar and hand crank. The combination of these two methods will keep you fully charged in any situation.

Not to mention, it’s got a charging port to let you hook up your USB devices. This combined with the flashlight make this a very versatile tool for a very low price.

Reviewers love the value for the price. But they do note that the battery doesn’t last very long when charging smartphones.

Overall, this weather radio is an excellent tool for the absurdly low price!

Best Multi-Use Weather Radio – Midland ER310

Best Multi-Use Weather Radio - Midland ER310

If you’re looking for the Swiss army knife of emergency weather radios, look no further! This radio has all the features that have become standard, with a few fun new tricks.

This radio has hand-crank and solar, but on top of that, you can charge it with a USB. This means that on top of all it’s functionality, it’s a fully functioning power bank. 

It’s got all the standard features. It’s got a built in flashlight, an AM/FM/NOAA radio. But it’s got some fun stuff too. It comes with an ultrasonic dog whistle built right in. The other feature I think is nice is an SOS strobe feature. The flashlight will automatically signal SOS in morse code. A useful feature if you find yourself in trouble!

Reviewers found some issue with the proprietary battery used by this company. (It’s hard to replace). That said, you can also use AA batteries which are possibly the most standard battery out there.

Best Value Weather Radio – RunningSnail

Best Value Weather Radio - RunningSnail

The RunningSnail is the best low-cost but high-function option. Coming in at $30, this radio is a good deal! 

This radio has three ways to charge, hand-crank, solar, and battery power. This radio actually accepts AAAs, which is less common but appreciated by reviewers. 

Owners that have been through hurricanes love this one! They talk about how the battery holds up and really does charge the phone. Since this is chargeable by USB, it’s an effective power bank. That means you can use this all the time, even without an emergency!

Many love the simple sense of security that this inexpensive radio can bring. If you don’t have a weather radio and want to pick one up for the peace-of-mind, this is a good choice for you!

Top Highest Rated Weather Radio – FosPower

Top Highest Rated Weather Radio - FosPower

The FosPower radio is the highest rated on Amazon. With a 4.6 out of over 5000 reviews, this radio has stood the test of time. Don’t take my word for it, this is Amazon’s “Best Choice” for weather radios. 

A feature I like that this radio has is the double light. It’s got a full flashlight on the front but also a reading light on the side. The three charging methods will keep these lights running. Even when everything else goes dark. 

You’ve got your choice of solar, hand crank, and USB charging to keep it stocked. As long as you do, it’ll serve you well.

At $40, reviewers love that this radio is a big bang for your buck. Many have taken this radio through hurricanes and come out the other side with only good things to say!

Best Quality Pick – Kaito KA500

Best Quality Pick - Kaito KA500

This sturdy, feature-packed radio from Kaito is a hit. This weather radio leaves nothing out and will not leave you disappointed! 

With the most options yet, this radio has 6 ways to power! If you want to crank it or use solar, you’re in good shape. If you want to run it off it’s own internal battery or off of AA’s, you’re in luck. You can even plug this radio directly into the wall or a USB port!

It doesn’t disappoint on features either. It’s got a flashlight and reading lamp, as you may have come to expect. It’s also got an AM, FM, Weather, and Shortwave radio, with handy dials to control bands.

There are a lot of good Voyager Emergency radios out there. This one is no exception!

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Bug Out Now! What Is Bugging Out?

Bugging out as a term is something that’s risen in popularity over the last couple decades. You may have heard of bug out bags, bugging out prep, or bug out locations. This popularity stems from growing worry that something could come around the corner. Something that could destabilize life as we know it.

Man mid bug out, stopping to look at forest.

Bugging Out In A Nutshell

“Bugging Out” is when you take your close loved ones and some survival supplies. Then you leave the place where you normally live and do business. There are different degrees of bugging out.

A Common Bug Out Example

For instance, when you live in a coastal area with hurricane risks you have to evacuate. This is asked by the authorities if a dangerous storm is moving in. You’d likely pack up your loved ones and pets and pile into a car with some basic supplies. For something at this level, you can just head to go stay with family or friends or even at a hotel. Even though you’re planning on coming home after it blows over, this is still bugging out.

You’ve probably heard the term “Bug Out Bag” if you’ve heard about bugging out. These can go from simple to elaborate. For this hurricane threat, you may consider having a bag (or tub) with some water, some protein bars, a first aid kit, and maybe a few other pieces of gear. This would be planning for the unlikely event that something unexpected happens while you’re evacuating.

Complex Bugging Out

Bugging out can get a lot more involved than a simple evacuation. Some bug out plans don’t involve ever coming home again. This of course would be very unnecessary in the case of a hurricane. Of course, a more catastrophic disaster could make this necessary. Even some sort of threat from a foreign military presence could call for this. In the case of these more serious events your bug out bag is going to be much larger. It’s going to have a lot more supplies. And it may even be geared to just getting you out of your normal area and to a secondary location. This secondary location (or bug out location) is somewhere that you’ve planned to evacuate to before hand.

In larger situations like this you may hear the term “INCH Bag” or other “INCH” related phrases. This stands for “I’m Never Coming Home”, and is as serious as it sounds. The only situations you would consider this in are ones where you believe that your home won’t even be there anymore. Possibly, situations where the area around your home will become too dangerous to ever return.

A Historical Bug Out Example

A historical example of an INCH situation might be the Chernobyl Disaster. The residents of Pripyat hardly had time to gather anything before being hurried out of the city. They were never able to ever return to their homes due to the radiation. INCH situations are a severity of bugging out. They’re the highest one you could encounter.

For situations like the one we mentioned about with hurricanes, it’s a good idea to have at least a basic bug out plan. Some people consider this and all “prepping” to be doomsday nonsense. That couldn’t be more wrong. There are plenty of situations that you should be prepared for. Situations that wouldn’t be nearly interesting enough for a movie plot.

You don’t need to let the fear of something bad happening get you down, though! In fact, knowing that you’re prepared if something should happen can bring a lot of peace of mind. In the event of a real disaster you won’t have much time to prepare. By preparing ahead of time you can ensure that you’ll be ready. As they say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

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