SELCO: Strategy and Mobility Are the Most Important Preps for the SHTF

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Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

Years after my SHTF I am definitely better prepared and organized for anything similar in the future, but just like all things in prepping it is so easy to get again in the same false feeling of being “secure.”

Once it was, “Oh it can never happen here.” Now it can be, “I am much better prepared now, I am safe.”

We all sooner or later get ourselves in a situation where when we buy physical things for SHTF, we are actually buying the feeling of safety and peace of mind. I try to avoid that, but of course just like everybody else I often find myself there.

One of the questions that I get often goes like this: “What would you choose to have now for SHTF after going once through it?” And it is easy to answer it more or less.


But taking into consideration how most preppers prepare for SHTF I must say that while a lot of things would be easier, the same problems would be there even with having a lot of physical things stored for SHTF.

Here are some examples.

Security and resources

Of course, I could have used more weapon at that time, and more ammo, especially at the beginning of everything when there was complete and absolute chaos everywhere. It was a time when you still do not know exactly who is dangerous and where you can go to be safe.

In that period of time, it is, as I mentioned before, it is best to stay put, and even better to have some resources and means to defend that resources.

So yes, I could have used more of both at that time – better resources and better means to defend it.

But do not mistake that and think with a lot of resources and means to defend it you have completely solved your problems. Actually, you need to have a philosophy and strategy to be able to have that for a prolonged period of time. Which brings you again to the point where you will have to go out and “interact” with people on one or other way.

You can not interact (trade, negotiate, barter, fight…) if you do not have strategy and skills for that, a network of trusted people, great knowledge of your surroundings ( different groups of people, customs, criminal mindset, communication skills, fighting skills…)

So do not get me wrong here. I would love if I had more physical things at that time, it would have helped me a lot. But in the end, it would have turned out similar-interacting with other folks. It would be easier yes and it would take longer, but again it would come again to that interaction.

And do not think that interaction means sitting in an armchair and shooting at people who are attacking your home. It means a lot more than that.


No matter how much physical things I would love to have had in that time, or that I wish to have for some future time, here is one other thing that preppers often forget.


It is much more important to be mobile than to have a lot of physical things with you in your home.

Now again, do not take this “mobility” too literally. It does not mean that you only need to have a backpack and weapon and head to the hills or wilderness when the SHTF.

Actually, it means a lot more than that.

When SHTF, there are huge chances that you are gonna be forced to abandon your home, either because you are bugging out or you temporarily have to leave, or whatever. There is no sense of putting “all the money” in your home.

Develop a strategy where you can be highly mobile, but still have resources, either through survival caches, or a BOL. Have multiple plans where you gonna go in case of some serious event. Have multiple planned ways to there, have a network of people who might help you on the way there (and vice versa).

In the best-case scenario yes, you may stay at your home. But most probably you are not gonna be able to stay there all the time.

So no matter how much physical things you have – do not count on the belief that it will be possible to keep it with you in your home.

Be ready to be mobile, not to blindly run away. Have a strategy ready for that.

(Looking for more advice on crafting a proper strategy for emergency evacuations? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide.)

Recognizing signs of the coming SHTF

Let’s be honest here. No matter where you live today, you can probably say that things are going to s..t.

Does that mean that you (or I) will blindly go to survival mode? No, actually.  We will try to enjoy our life as much is possible, otherwise what is the point?

Yeah, there are chances that we gonna recognize the arrival of the SHTF and that we will act accordingly. But chances are bigger that we will be caught in the middle of it by surprise.

And then?

The whole point of survival is to act properly in a given situation. You are still gonna be ahead of the majority of folks around you. So while the majority of people are panicking you will act according to the situation.

And that is good enough.

For me, there is not too much sense in living in fear of possible collapse. Enjoy your life while things are more or less okay.

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Concluding thoughts on strategy and mobility

As a form of conclusion here, there is the thought that no matter how much physical stuff you have ready for SHTF, it will not save you from all the hard work when it happens.

It will make things easier for you, and that is great because every help is gonna be appreciated, but you still gonna need to have strategies for interacting with the people around you once when SHTF. In my book, Dark Secrets of Survival, I shared some stories about those interactions. (Available in PDF or paperback.)

It is much better to develop those strategies before SHTF, while you have time and choices.

Once the SHTF is happening, the events unfold around you at a different speed.  Or we may say “frequency” so it is hard to “tune in” to all that and stay safe.

Here is only one example – trade. It is such a huge topic on all survival forum everywhere, with people fantasizing about trade when SHTF. But point of it is to be ready for trade before SHTF, and it can be to have strategy about: what is gonna be needed in your region, what is easier to sell (to carry, trade), what kind of groups of people living around you, what they prefer, what kind of organisation will emerge and own black market and what that means for you, where are possible trade places…I wrote more about that here.

There is a lot that you can think about today, before the SHTF.

What are your thoughts?

Does Selco’s advice make you rethink your current strategies? Had you considered these things previously? How can you become more flexible in your preparedness?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.



Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today. He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months. Read more of Selco's articles here. Buy his PDF books here. Take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge by signing up for his unrivaled online course. Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

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  • I think this article, and the links within, is great information for people who are young enough to bug out. But not so helpful for an older person, who has another older person to take care of – with the exception of the part that speaks about interaction with other like-minded folks. If you have like-minded people around you or close by you, getting things in order ahead of time is the best way to keep things available to you.
    But then, maybe some of us don’t have many other like-minded people around us to interact with. So then we have to plan to just hunker down with what we have, keeping in mind what we have trained with and for, and just take things as they come, and try to keep a cool head on our shoulders. Some of us are just caught between a rock and a hard place, and there is nothing we can do about it.

    • You might also paint me a little bit green, because I envy Selco’s knowledge and abilities; but I also thank him for his willingness to impart some of it to all of us. People like him are needed sorely during these times.

      • Isn’t it bad to be too old to fight. You can become a storehouse for knowledge. Be their teacher as they protect you and yours. When there is no electricity for youtube and Kindle books, YOU can be the reference source.

    • With respect, Old Duffer, never underestimate an old person. Physical strength may wane with age but mental toughness, resilience and downright stubbornness are resources that only come with age and a lifetime of overcoming. As someone wrote somewhere, don’t upset us old guys – at our age a life sentence in prison doesn’t mean as much as it once might have.

    • YES, it will be tough on the OLDER folks. Especially for those with any sort of physical disability. What about people that can only rely on their walker to be mobile? What about those who only use a motorized scooter to get around. I am not talking about other 300–400-pound people you see in Walmart using the grocery carts b/c maybe they are lazy. I mean the ones with Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy or Polio or some other serious physical mobility issue, what about all of those people? And yes, many do live alone. They will have no choice but to deal with what supplies they have and are capable of using and they will have to hunker down b/c they will not be able to head for the hills or walk miles and miles to anything or anywhere… Guess they will have to deal with its b/c I don’t know whatever their options are. Hoping family members or friends that are close will help. Otherwise, I don’t know… GOD bless them. That will actually be a good time to just put ALL of their trust in the LORD, it might be what (at that time) they can do best!!! And just pray for safety…Any suggestion on this topic would help lots of people to learn new ways of surviving.

      • I live in a retirement community and the major mobility issues here are O. arthritis and lumbar issues like disk degeneration from years of wear and tear (Hubby and others), who only take shorter walks, some using rollators. No way they can walk long distances or trek thru woods or rugged terrain. If things get bad enough some will go w/ family members others will do what they can and stay in place (nowhere else to go).

        • One thing you can do is study survival skills. Make yourself vital to the young kids. Gardening. Animal husbandry. Preserving food. Sewing by hand. Foraging. Camp out at your local library and watch for kids reading prep books. Start a conversation. I bet you would be a great person to barter for the kids.

    • Well, my neighbors across the street are good friends. I am also good friends with his family near by.
      We look out after them.
      When the COVID crazy hit and there were lockdowns, anytime we had to go into town, we called them and asked if they needed anything. We picked up their Rx several times.
      That is just the way it is out here.

    • You beat me to it Old Duffer , I too am aging and don’t really have a large support network ( family / friends ) and I live in a neighborhood that’s a little rough . I would love to see more ideas for the elderly please. Thank you , Laura

  • What Selco says about establishing those networks and connections now, prior to any SHTF is a must. We have been doing a trade/barter with neighbors for a few years now. With the Amish too.

    A few of my neighbors and I have discussed over a few beers what things would look like or need to be done if SHTF. Assuming fuel would be in very limited supply or non-existent we figured trade and barter would be limited to within a days walk; Half way out and then back. We could establish a “farmers” market at the four corners, which would be central for a lot of people in the immediate area.

    We think we would have to re-establish our town council. As it is, some of the council members live 10-20 minutes away by car. May not sound far, but by 55mph two lane county roads, they are not doing that walk in a day. We would have to elect a new council and the Amish would have two seats to represent their community. We are not going to get through SHTF without community.

    We discussed some kind of currency or establishing an economy but did not really come up with anything.

    Coming to each other aid, be it from MZBs, a fire, or just helping out stacking firewood. We also figured it make more sense if everyone was carrying a firearm for security. Long gun if you want. Open carry of a handgun or concealed, your choice. But normalize it. A armed society is a polite society.

    Mobility. Most people assume SHTF under perfect conditions. It is upper 60s, low humidity, no rain in the past few days, easy to bug out to that BOL right?
    What if it happens in the dead of winter, the snow plows are not running and there is three feet of snow and it is still coming down. Even my 4×4 truck would have issues getting through that. Getting around in the winter could be a real issue. Tracked vehicles would be the best bet, snowmobiles, but again rely on fuel. That leaves snowshoes and cross country skis. Not for the weak of heart or the elderly. But those of us who can, we are going to get real thin real fast on the SHTF exercise and diet program, the one that will succeed where all others have failed.

    • Greatly said 1stMarineJarHead! William R Forstchen books “One Second After” are a great read for us preppers.. it opens ones eyes to the complexity, variables and realities of survival after SHTF, in this case an EMP attack over the USA and the consequences after, in great detail. It taught me a lot, and if things ever happen, the books stories will be a reminder.. that also will help to visualise and understand a bad situation and give one the insights of what to do.

  • I am 68 years old. My home is in the woods down a dead end road. My parents were teens during the great depression. They taught me by example. Too many young people have the wrong attitude about the future. They lived with us long enough to realize the farm is too much work for them. Some have returned, but I kicked them out when they refused to work. When the SHTF happens, nobody will be ready, but I will be better prepared than many. I’m prepared to die here.

  • I have many of the issues mentioned in the article. As was suggested, I have plans, equipment, and supplies to help me get through many of the possible situations that people without my types of problems would have no problems dealing with.

    However, I know and understand that could be/would be situations can exist that I will not be able to surve.

    I will be doing everything I can to make, but I might not. So, I also have plans for that possibility, just like my plans for other things.

    I know how difficult it is to come to terms with the thought or knowledge that you will probably die if certain things occur. That possibility needs to be understood and accepted so plans can be developed to deal with the event and aftermath.

    Refusing to accept that you might die or become vastly worse than you already are will result in what you might want to occur if you die not being what happens,

    For example, do you really want your weapons and ammunition taken by those that will use them against your family, friends, or group?

    Who will take care of your surviving dependents?

    The belief that you will miraculously come up with an amazing plan to escape that impossible to survive event is only going to prevent you being ready to deal with the reality of those situations.

    No one can survive everything, no matter how good of shape they are in or how much training they have or how much equipment and supplies they have.

    If you are at ground zero of an asteroid impact you are going to die.

    I certainly believe miracles can and happen. I have seen them happen and experienced them more than once. So I am not going to just give up when things look hopeless. I will be doing everything I can think of to survive the situation.

    And knowing I have made plans for if I do not survive will make it easier for me to do whatever I can think of to survive since all my attention can be on that rather than worrying about what will happen to those left behind after my death.

    Accept the fact you may die and make the plans for that as well as the plans on how to deal with all the other possibilities. If you do the survivors that recieve the benefits of that planning will thank you and remember you for what you have done.

    Just my opinion.

    • I’ve read your stories some of them more than once. What’s the possibility of publishing your unpublished stories. Thank you for your insights.

  • People get too wrapped up in material things. It’s great to have “supplies” or “resources”. But true survival is a mindset. We’ve lived a very soft life in the land of plenty and abundance. People better start getting their minds prepped.
    Every time you go out in public, imagine what you might have to do or harm to get away. Getting your senses tuned in to your surroundings at all times. I’ve hunted for years. And I always try to think like what I’m after. That’s exactly how bad guys will think about their victims. They’ll watch you leave a store with goods and find out where they’re going. They’ll drive neighborhoods listening for generators, looking for lights when the power is out. Those are resources they’re looking for.
    Get your minds tuned in.

    • If SHTF, and someone is driving around neighborhoods, slow enough they can listen for generators or light on, wouldn’t that be a indicator of someone up to do no good? Someone slows down on our road, we notice. The FedEx or UPS guy slowing down to make a delivery sets our dogs off.
      And if I am practicing proper OPSEC, wouldn’t I see someone following me from the store?

      • Electric & hybrid vehicles are totally Silent when running; I’ve watched them from the shadows cruise by, silently, at night. That’s why they’re preferred by private detectives when doing surveillance.

        • If SHTF and the grid is down, how are you charging an EV?
          From what I have read, some EVs can actually power a persons home.
          IIRC in California, in the event of a power shortage, some of their law makers want to use people’s EV to power the grid and make up the shortage.

  • Orwell said don’t let it happen. Not prepare for aftermath. Your survival is a pipe dream. They have thermal drones and lasers. You have overweight friends and no action. Shut up already and stop trying to profit of my doom before we get mad and kick your asses before shit ever hits anything.

    • Thermal drones and lasers, eh?
      Do you know all the requirements that go into even getting a drone off the ground?
      My wife has a masters degree from the Air War College. She can literally run the air war. And has.
      Sure, some of my friends are overweight. But they sure can shoot!
      Oohh! You are going to get mad, eh? What? For pointing out prepping? By a guy who went through a civil war? What ever can we learn from him? Maybe even you.

  • What would you suggest, when negotiating a trade with someone not part of your group, because you’d have to have a meeting time and place and then you’d need to be really careful that they didn’t follow you back to wherever you’re hiding out.

  • First, i read the story of Selco in the city in the war in Bosnia….i would never trade or sell a firearm with ammo because what keeps the buyer from using it on you?
    Whatever you have, a weapon will be very important, and i think a shotgun cut down is prime, because you have a wide range that gets hit, if you have bad sight of are not so strong this is also a very good chance maker…and cheap….
    Also learning to make fire is nice, but lockpicking is a better skill in an urban enviroment, europe is mostly towns and cities, and behind every locked door is potential safety and food….you can be quiet and get what you want….dry place, protection, sleep, there are many water towers, electricity buildings that have a lock. My car survival stuff includes a sharp edge folding shovel for legal and practical reasons and a wire cutter for locks….open gates that can give acces to something, i have some industrial keys for opening powerboxes, lampposts and toilets and such, square and triangle locks….also i would never use the motorway as it is a potential trap… in The Netherlands all motorways have metal rails or ditches, once on it is very difficult to get off except on the official exits…

    I think whatever you have there is someone wanting it….for free so bartering will have to be secure….and security is your own responsability…..paid help is never dependable, so they will say they are because they know they are not….your guard may run with the gold and leave you with nothing but pain….trust is earned, never bought or promised…

    About trust; a friend of mine went to the motorcycle shop to get a clutch bearing out of the engine and of a shaft, not wanting the engine to be taken apart….the shop said they have a tool to take the bearing out, and they do not weld stuff to the bearing to pull it out…..guess…. a week after the shop “fixed” the problem and installed a new bearing the engine seizes and is beyond use….new oil and filter were installed before running
    the engine again….small metal balls and slag/weldcrust came out of the engine, small pieces that stuck inbetween the kegwheels and such….not many, only a teaspoon full came out…most between half a millimeter aqnd two milimeter…engine gone….so when people suggest being trustworthy they are actually saying they are not….it is simply their consciense making an effort but not getting there….

    As for being old: check astanga yoga, i think every year you practise this you get two more to your life…it is in fact a combat training for power and fitness and in my opinion the best worthwile effort i know….

    I find articles on this site very informing and confirming in what i think, i learn new things and outlooks…so thx !

  • Jeremiah 50 pretty well defines that all that stay within Babylon will be destroyed. This did not happen in ancient Babylon. It applies to the end time Babylon which most likely is the USA.

    Regardless of how good one’s preps are within the USA, the best action is to get totally out before it is destroyed in one hour.

    I think this will happen soon after Russia takes all of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. This is based upon Daniel 7:5.

    Time wise my best guess is late July 2024.

  • Selco so few have any common sense ,so i ask if there was people
    Within months eating the dead or hunting the living
    And if there might be a little truth to
    That the EVIL in the heart of those who can MOB UP and become a force are the sum of all fears
    Today we read of the devils own who were just Pillaging in the city of brotherly love , my point is you could hear the evil of their laughter ,the two Demons who just ran down a bicycle rider
    True EVIL.
    Selco might the war you went thru have just the same evils
    That are as old as time , obviously it is a Hypothetical but was there in your time of hell on earth this form of evil and if so what did you see ,why it is forewarned
    It may give the people who real care about living another reason to group up ,safety in numbers . To the old people who think they cannot be mobile ,weak links NEVER GIVE UP NEVER GIVE IN
    Psalm 91
    Within to all is GODS PROMISE
    Make the call

  • Read about the flooding in NYC and just had a thought concerning mobility.
    We take electricity for granted. Flip the switch and the lights come on.
    A few weeks ago, we had a major storm system come through. First heard about it when the National Weather Service cut in on the radio. Then I checked NOAA radar. Yep. Big long line of red, orange and yellow heading up from the South. 15 minutes later the power went out for three hours.
    SHTF, grid down for a prolonged period of time, the National Weather Service and NOAA both might/likely be down. They will be in the same boat as we are. How are we going to know those dark clouds are more than just a minor storm? Tornadoes? Hurricanes for those living in hurricane ally?
    How about all those poor, poor rich people who got stuck in the mud at Burning Man this year? Yeah, I made myself laugh too.

    • I strongly oppose solar energy for grid-connected purposes. But it shines (pun intended) for off-grid purposes. A solar power bank is a very worthwhile prep; I primarily expect it to be useful for powering flashlights and lanterns, although it can power any usb device.

      Real mains power, delivering the megawatt hours needed for air conditioning and other power hungry applications, we simply have to be prepared to do without. But with a little planning, we won’t have to resort to medieval torches for nighttime illumination.

      Although re-reading your comment, I’m not sure of the connection between mobility and electricity…

      • Ah, I was not clear.
        Say you live in hurricane ally. Say the grid been down for a few weeks. No warning of a cat 5 hurricane about to make land fall in your neighborhood. No time to bug out aka mobility to get out has passed.
        Same could be said about tornadoes, bad storms in general like the one we experienced, the recent flooding in NYC.

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