‘Lone Wolf’ Life Expectancy…?

Picture of Selco


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

Survial Bootcamp

Get instant access to everything, learn at your own pace, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

Some of the links you’ll find here are affiliate links, which means we might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. But don’t worry! You won’t pay a single penny more!



Over the last couple of years I get many questions about „what to do when SHTF if you are alone, without network of people…“ kinda questions, most of my answers were pretty much grim about perspective of being alone when SHTF.

It is not impossible, but it is very, VERY hard. Over on our Facebook page Robert asks specifically:

Selco, What is your advice to people who have no family or many friends in there immediate areas if disaster strikes? Bug in where you are safest and meet people? Bug out in the wild where supplied is limited , harsh weather and slow decline of sanity? There are people out there without a support network. I look at it this way. If you are alone now with people around you then when disaster strikes then bugging in is really the best option. Why? Because you can pull resources together and form a group.Your sanity can be stable, you can learn new skills, have a structure to protect against weather, trade and can reduce caloric intake. What do you think the options are for the lone man? I think he is going to have to stay put“

But that discussion draws other interesting topics, and from the statement that „being alone when SHTF“ lot of folks might conclude wrong things or wrong ideas, so again let’s (again) consider few problems here if you think you are gonna be alone when SHTF (urban).

Being Alone When SHTF in Urban Settings

I must point out here again and again difference between romantic view of surviving in the city and reality first.

Every city is complex mix of services that needs to operate in perfect (more or less) harmony in order to let ordinary man live in it.

When those services go away, it is not city anymore, at least not as you understand it.

It is big pile of people, inside a big pile of not operating buildings and houses. To make it more simple to understand, when SHTF, city become too small to support that number of citizens, simply suddenly you are realize that there are way too many people around you and way too little water, power, food, security, medicines etc etc.

It becomes complex death trap and it will ask from you to implement your strength, your skills, your view of moral and right and wrong so badly that it is hard to imagine right now.

Of course, people will survive it, nothing new, but sometimes at very high prices.

Or to bring it to the examples for a moment.

You are alone, and your home is under threat. How long are you going to be able to be on guard, watching for the threat?

One night?, Day and night? How long before you are going to see things that are not there, or even worse not see things that are there?

Now add to the problem that you might be forced to be on guard for 48 hours while you are having diarrhea, or fever.

Who is going to watch over your place when you are out looking for resources or information for example?

Bugging in so good and safe inside city that you can stay „put“ for couple of days, or sleep whole night (without someone at watch) sounds great. But not so probable.

Bugging Out „Into The wild“

Maybe it is only me, but as I see it only few can go „out in the wild“ and survive for prolonged period of time.

Bugging out in the wilderness is not like camping trip, because camping trip is just that-trip- you go out in the wild with resources and you are going back into normal life, 5 days, 10 days or month, but you are going back.

Surviving in wilderness for prolonged period of time  is something completely different, because you are going to start a new life in a way.

Range of skills, physical and mental strength needed for that is way beyond skills of average prepper and most of the people could not last too long in the wilderness.

Most of the folks who bug out into wilderness without huge prior preparations (including BOL) will end up dead or simply as a unsuccessful scavengers and solo raiders.

Forming A Group

I am big advocate of building the network of trusted people. Simply because I saw what it means when you have someone that you can really rely on when SHTF.

Now there is difference between forming the group before SHTF and after SHTF, because for good group you need to have enough time to build confidence and have all things set up for SHTF.

Common sense because that is that you need to build group BEFORE SHTF. It takes time.

Building group after SHTF usually means that you for „alliances“ with people that you do not know good enough-that equals fact that you simply never know when they are going to turn against you.


As a answer to the original question at the beginning of this post –


If you asked me several years ago what to do I would advice you to bug out into wilderness and take your chance, but after years of learning about wilderness there is one possible choice for you here- bug in.

No friends, no network, no family, no BOL, no absolutely perfect skills and knowledge and perfect mindset for wilderness you just have to take your chance by bugging in.

But consider mentality that you need to be really flexible and ready to be really mobile in city. Staying bugged in one „shelter“ is quite hard.

You need to consider alternative shelters, close to your place, secret stashes with preps (food, ammo etc), people that you will use as a help, not trusted network of people, but kind of ‘associates’ in order to get what you need to get.

Do not expect to find 6 good people on second day of SHTF. Use people from situation to situation, do not trust to anyone.

My advice here in short is to bug in, but not type of bugging in that people imagine, with tons of everything ready to die for that. You going to need to be highly mobile, with lots of choices prepared where to spend night.

Final Note:

Help me to help you…

Guys I really enjoy writing these articles and spreading quality information that helps you prepare. You will see I have added a new feature on the right hand side of this page. It is a ‘donate’ button. I’m not going to lie to you, times are tough down here in the Balkans and getting tougher in many ways each week. If you find my articles of help or use, please consider buying me a drink to say thanks, or leaving a donation of any amount. Every little helps! Thank You.





Survial Bootcamp

Get instant access to everything, learn at your own pace, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

35 Responses

  1. IMHO, lone wolf mode in SHTF is just not a durable method. It becomes a logistics problem as you have to be able to get to resources. Depending on where you start from, you might be able to hide out with a stash for a while, but eventually, if the SHTF goes long enough, a person must find resources for life (food and water at least). Therein lies the problem. An individual foraging in an area with any sort of population will become a target quickly, unless they are able to establish an affiliation and no longer be the lone wolf. Even in wilderness, its not like the mountain man days where chances of an encounter are remote (and by the way, a lot of “mountain men” died young). You come across another group as an individual, and you stand a good chance of being divested of whatever possessions you have, even if they don’t just kill you outright. Unless your current resources are quite vast, and you have taken the time to invest in rather substantial provisions and have planned well, the lone wolf concept is just not feasible. For the vast majority of us, pooling resources and interests with others that can be trusted is the only chance of getting through the S!

  2. Isn’t the real answer for lone wolves to bug out to some other city or country where the unrest is less? Just gear up and get the hell out as best and fast as you can before the city is completely surrounded and an inescapable death trap, but go SOMEWHERE where some semblance of society still operates?

    Selco – you described some folks leaving Sarajevo through mountain passes to other villages and cities and (in some cases) returning. But without a family depending on you, why not just keep going until you reach somewhere that allows you to build a new network. This would depend on prepping for a trek, survival food and gear for a week (give or take), not a lifetime. And of course would depend on services/law existing SOMEWHERE. But it seems more likely that somewhere will exist than that the entire world will concurrently go teotwaki, doesn’t it?

    Maybe wishful thinking?

    1. Oh yes Dan, of course.
      But i take that as a bugging out to safe location, so in this (post) scenario we did not consider that.
      Choices were bugging out to wilderness, or staying (bugging in).
      And yes, we also take as a possibility here that everywhere is same.
      Long time ago, in one of the first interviews when they asked me if same situation happens to me again what would I do different?
      i answered “I would left country immediately” 🙂
      Best choice is not to be where SHTF of course, but what if everywhere is same?

  3. All of this is hypothetical, except for the necessities of life. Having said that, I am somewhere in-between, not in the city, not in the wilderness. For me, bugging in is the plan. Obviously, if I need to leave, I won’t hesitate if it’s necessary. But if I can avoid it, I will, and I’m making plans to make this more feasible. Again, I’m not in the city or the wilderness, so I’m protecting my perimeter with things that make intrusion difficult and less inviting. Serious protection, with tall fences and thick bushes. Dogs. Building is raised, so that entry is difficult, and is only feasible from the front face of the building. Very low-key in all other ways, it doesn’t appear special or different. I have a limited network of able friends, who know that this is the place to come if SHTF. I hope they will come, I don’t look forward to defending it by myself. I have sufficient arms and other supplies to furnish a small group for some time. Beyond this, what can one ask for? Food and water. Security to some degree. Shelter. Some land for farming, hygiene, etc. Doing it alone is not an appealing prospect. But again, perseverance, and resilience. Do what is necessary, and handle what is unexpected.

  4. Even with some isolation and fortifications, without someone to watch your back, you odds are severely reduced. Escape would always be preferable if possible. I believe Selco’s scenario was in the SHTF, whether Urban or rural or wilderness, is just not practically sustainable as a loner. There may be cases where rural/wilderness SHTF survival is possible IF you have the right skill set, are in peak physical condition, have provision to re-outfit/resupply at key points, and have intimate knowledge of the area. This would be like LRPA missions in battle zones, where hostile contact is less likely, and objectives are fairly certain. But that is a very limited window for successful operation, and even so, eventually finishes with a return to friendly camp and cohorts. For the rest of us, teaming up asap with like minded and reasonably trained and prepared pals would be essential to survival in any SHTF scenario we’d be likely to find ourselves. Lone Wolf mode would be akin to E&E trying to get from undesired locus to your team’s rally point.

    Try as I might, I can’t think of a single instance where Lone Wolf would be better than a team, given similar conditions. Multi-player mode has a synergistic effect.

  5. I think that building the network of trusted people is THE most important thing BEFORE shtf. Finding yourself left alone without any connections sounds very scary and I just hope I don’t have to experience that terror feeling ever! Thanks for thus write up though, please keep doing it. Thank you!

  6. People are low-consciousness and thus dangerous. You can survive and thrive by fasting on your own urine for 100+ days, proven by John Armstrong. The first few days will be rough because all the toxins in your system will be evacuated, and many survivalists are very toxic people. I’d rather be a lone wolf drinking pee than a bunch of idiots starving to death from dehydration.

  7. Whenever I travel, and find myself hundreds of miles from home, or perhaps, a couple thousand miles from home, I think about a SHTF scenario where suddenly I am stranded. Let’s say a “One Second After” scenario. I’ve got some bug-out gear in my now-useless vehicle, (or, I have little/nothing, if I took an airliner or train across the country). This fear, of being so far from home and safety, with the dismaying prospect of trekking on foot at the age of 68, is an ultimate nightmare. Realizing that home might as well be on the far side of the moon in such an emergency almost ruins my enjoyment of traveling.

    1. Yes, Edgar, and S. may hit the fan when we not expecting it, when we are not home, or not in perfect health, or not close to all our gear.
      It is so possible, and then it is about adapting and skills.

  8. Selco!

    I always enjoy your posts! Please advise on this situation. I live in the suburbs of a declining city with a 145,000 area population. In a recent natural disaster, 60%+ of my neighbors left their homes and moved in with their families in other communities. Most moved without telling anybody. How those who stayed and responded to the disaster was a real lesson for me in human behavior.

    I know my family will struggle to survive on its own, but I hesitate to invest in building a network. Who’s going to be here to defend bugging in? Which ones do I build a network with? Adding to this, we discovered most of our neighbors are not prepared for even a small 3 day weather event. I’m concerned that forming a network will destroy my OPSEC and make my neighbors psychologically dependent upon my family.

    In contrast to the American, self-sufficient, stereotype cowboy, my neighbors have little food, water, ammo and weapons. They are not self-sufficient. Based on their real-world responses, they are not psychologically prepared to survive. I am certain that most of these folks will run until their car runs out of gas and then become BugOut refugees. They literally expect the government to care for them.

    I totally agree with your post about lone-wolf survivors having a very limited lifespan. How would you approach my situation?

    1. Thanks Javel!
      It does not need to be preparing and network building for bugging in, not necessary. You are looking for like minded people in order to form some kind of network so you can raise your chances when SHTF.
      As I said it is slow process, and it is absolutely process where you do not go out and specifically look for preppers ( and openly “represent” yourself as a prepper).
      It is about looking for like minded people in slow process with lot of steps (unless we are talking about close and trusted family members when you can more or less openly present them your philosophy)
      Hiking, shooting, martial arts, camping trips, awareness topics, “neighborhood watch” kinda things… look for the people with similar activities that might help you, then slowly discuss with them whole thing, but slow.
      Do not be prepper-be concerned citizen for a start, when looking for similar folks.
      At the end, over some period of time, you may find few trusted persons, who share your view on things, and you might even consider other plans-not only bugging in.
      It is almost impossible not to find like minded people in city, just if you have enough time.

      And remember that lot of those your neighbors who are not psychological prepared for survival and who are without enough food, water and ammo will not have enough time or strength or brain to left the city, and after few days they will come to visit you if you look better prepared then them.
      So if you are staying-be prepared to look desperate just like them.

  9. P. Edgar: A fit 68 year old is a worthy opponent. You likely need more PT and some good shoes & clothes for travel. Having paper maps will be useful, as will finding a bicycle or knowing when a rail train is passing (hop aboard!) to send you the right direction. A pistol, a water filter, 25% of your body weight pack with the right contents, will help you on the way. One foot in front of the other, on well-known paths, is easier and surer than the trek my great-great-grandfather took on the Oregon trail.

  10. pdxr13: “One foot in front of the other, on well-known paths, is easier and surer than the trek my great-great grandfather took on the Oregon trail.” Eloquent advice… and heartening, in that I live in Oregon. Thanks. Now for some PT… 😉

    1. Surviving is rarely sprint, it is long distance walking if you understand. I would always choose smart and experienced 68 year old man as a companion when SHTF then 25 year old man who think he knows stuff.
      Now 25 years old man with good mindset and experience is possible, but rare.
      Age give you experience in terms that you know what you can and what you can not do, add to that some preps based on advantages and disadvantages of your age, physical condition and skills.
      For example maybe you can not do some great fistfights but smart people invented tools to kill a man on 50 or more meters distance, it is example only.

  11. The latest trainers of high-performing athletes pretty much agree that focusing 80% of your effort on the right food at the right time in the right quantities, 20% “working out” with an emphasis on making slow progress while not doing damage. If only I could follow this advice! Gravity is as strong as ever and the ground seems harder than 30 years ago.

    Best wishes from Portlandia.

  12. Thank you for the Donate button, I have been reading here for over a year, and have been wonder how to get a donation to you for all of the insight that you have shared.

    Please keep up the good advice and I will continue to send what I can.

  13. One of my neighbors out here in the Pennsylvania mountains once said, “if you live in a place where you have to bug out, you should already be gone.”

  14. I think the key is to avoid being a Lone Wolf by getting to know like minded people in your area before SHTF. The place you work, local gun stores, prepper meetings, VFW, even your church. Also, bring a skill of great value and if you don’t have one, learn one. After all, you’re a loner so you have time. Whether it’s gardening, nursing, Emergency Medical, shooting, blacksmithing, welding, electrical, etc, you can learn a skill that will make you sought after to existing groups.

  15. Advantage to lone wolf…..

    If you can hide you survive. you do not have to worry about the safety of others. If you are able to take cover and hide while a gang murders everyone in the small town, you only have to sit still until dark and not listen to the screams. If your friend was captured or wife capture and raped repeatedly your chances of sitting still go to zero. And that is a huge part of this. if you are prepared to be a hard ass survivalist your family is not, your children are not. will you be ready to let your kids die alone because they were slow and got shot and is now bleeding out?

    being a lone wolf does have it’s advantage. People are dangerous animals, and your family is a liability in life and death situations. So how many say they are not alone but in reality will be dragging a wife and 2 kids through SHTF and in reality they are a Lone wolf with liabilities? Will your wife be ok with killing and gutting the family dog for food while you are sick?

    This is the reality of SHTF. Most of you are Lone wolves unless you have a Survival group that are well trained and ready to defend each other.

  16. I am of Carl’s mindset. Too many real life experiences has confirmed this a reality. Even in a long established group of like-minded members, there is no real security. There are those are rock solid and moral/ethical who can/do transform into back-stabbers/chicken-shits/fuck-ups…. Then things get real ugly fast, as they have inside intel that outsiders can only guess at. It is possible to be a ‘ Lone Wolf ‘ and still be able to be in a pack. Some of the most loyal and strongest groups I have been with, are those of a loose pack of lone wolves. We each have our own ‘ stand on our own capabilities ‘, yet able unite our abilities to accomplish a common goal. Nothing like seeing a bunch of fiercely independent homeless/nomad individuals unite to take out the gang of punks who get their kicks beating up the homeless. In the areas that they did not unite, many individuals suffered horribly and some even killed by those same punks. Lone Wolf is a mind set that allows one to be self-sufficient, yet able to unite upon the need and mutual benefit. An established group is only as strong as its weakest link. It takes just one idiot to bring down a whole group of people (who are highly dependent on each other and unable to fend for themselves otherwise).
    Family groups / friends groups ??? Ask yourself. How many family gatherings ended to be a mayhem of violence/outbursts/mud slinging …?? Now, add the real stress of life & death of SHTF to this family group. Some do put their usual BS aside and form a solid unit, most do not. Divorce is a good measurement. 50% + marriages end in divorce and another 25 %+ are on the rock’s edge. If 10% of all marriages are rock solid and able to walk through the valley of hell and back, and still arm in arm. 10% is being generous.

  17. So, what will be the greatest threat to survival when the shtf?

    ?: starvation, dehydration, hypothermia, exposure, mental collapse, heart failure, wild animals, homicide

    I am guessing that the greatest threat to survival for everybody everywhere will be other people.

    And if that is the case, then it would seem reasonable to try to avoid the greatest threat in favor of lesser threats.

    I say and have always said, get the hell away from people, way away and the sooner the better, lone wolf or a pack.

    I am no expert. I simply fear people and have been attempting to inch my way farther and farther out these last sixteen years.

    Your mileage may vary.


    1. In survival formula people are always greatest danger, especially in urban settings, that is the reason why I advocate leaving the city when real SHTF.
      But I also advocate that greatest help when SHTF is having trusted people with you!

  18. Hi, you alredy talked about how to find a trustable person in a comment above. Can you tell more about what traits do you look in a person when you are forming your group? How do you decide who is trustable and who not? Is there different decision process (traits to look) between now (peace time) and SHTF? Thans.

  19. Thank you Selco for answering my question.
    I think some are not getting the message. My question was really related to ” I failed to have a group and now shtf is here( in whatever form it is). Do I stay or go? If I stay I could be exhausted pretty fast or become injured. If I leave , my sanity will suffer, supplies become exhausted and I can still be injured or exhausted.
    I suppose my question is a question of if I have decent skills but no group am I doomed no matter what?

    You mentioned my only option pretty much is to stay in my city BUT be mobile within that city.
    I think that’s the best solution and pretty much what I came up with as well, but I wasn’t considering moving place to place within the city itself.
    I do have skills . Mostly Medical and Combat based ones. So I suppose I could try to become part of a group. Like you said, it’s hard to become part of the group after the fact. To do that I would guess I would need a VERY valuable skill to sort of be of value to another group.

    I think some would choose to go to the wilderness. Sanity seems to be not mentioned much out there. People can go crazy in the wilderness or a lack of social skills. I Am Legend tried to depict that.
    You start talking to yourself, to objects, seeing things from losing sanity. It’s why some mentally ill people talk to themselves in some cases.

    My question also was a “last option” type of deal for those with skills and gear but no “man power ” or existing group.
    For being highly mobile , any suggestions?
    I think k that’s an excellent article you could do. Call it, ” Maximizing Mobility when you have no choice but to be alone”.

  20. I am an experienced hiker and long haul backpacker. It’s my hobby. It’s the only time when I feel real peace and a real fellowship with my Savior.

    I won’t go on about how many miles, what elevations, and what I have seen and experienced in the wilderness nor will I say how strong many of my skills are. They are way above average than most people, but I will say this:

    Even the experienced sport outdoorsman in 21st century America is woefully unprepared for a long term SHTF in the wilderness (longer than a few weeks). I include myself here as well.

    How does one get to the wilderness when highways are jammed with cars? Traveling out if a city by following rails, canals, and back roads alone will be filled with unsavory characters as well….being a lone wolf….you can easily be overpowered and your stuff ransacked. Or you use most of your supply to get to the wilderness area you are bugging out to!

    Let’s say you do make it out to the wilderness…..you get out before traffic is impossible…..whatever…..okay. Then what? Mountain towns / villages on the fringes or in the wilderness won’t be taking “too kindly” to the influx of city / suburban folk coming to “the hills” so to speak in a situation like SHTF on a large scale. They may even have roads blocked or frequently used / more popular hiking trails patrolled to keep “us” out!

    Okay. Now suppose you do make it. Supply will last a week tops, and even an experienced outdoorsman cannot survive for a long period on just edible plants for the most part. What about an emergency? Even experienced hikers, campers and backpackers get hypothermia. They get bitten by a poisonous snake. They fall, break a leg and die at the Hank of nature.

    To bug out….one has to be really in tune. Jesus even said to “watch” and “not to be deceived” by the end times. To bug in, the reality for most of us…this will have to be the case.

  21. It will depend greatly on where you are at the time of the “event” or chain of events. The BUGGED -IN person(s) do have certain things in their favor but we all should try to have a plan “B” in case that our first plan fails,,,I am trying very hard to encourage all my family and friends to seriously stock food and water if NOTHING else in face of how basic that is for life.
    Some are “gun shy” some can’t due to legal restrictions even handle a gun. That is a good topic to explore for those who can NOT handle a gun what they might consider as an alternative: Bow & Arrows? Bow Gun with darts? Swords/knives?

  22. i’m sourrouned by liars,cheaters,backstabbers but most of all they want to live out of the substance of other(parasite). so this why lone wolf is my only option. i’m a c.n.c. machiniste and i can make gun,bullet,machinery and armor vehicle, but if i try to catch rain water every body around me would drink it all and i would need to murder somebody to keep it(that is right now,not shtf)
    building the network of trusted people…..what heppen when you know that the people around you can’t be trusted. cause for them there giver and taker, and they are here to take as much that they can
    p.s. the guy that make kerosine in your story. took me 5 minute but it’s still with plastic as fuel.get me a drill and a mig and i can make you some with presurise drum or large steam cooker
    p.p.s. you can use it to make boose if you don’t put the plastc

  23. You mentioned you had seen lone wolves that survived the Balkan War but you mentioned they were unusual people can you be more specific? Were they mentally ill, bohemian, nerdy? Any clues might be helpful to people here, for all I know I might be one of those “unusual” people.

    1. Hello Richard!
      Usually they were really tough, and lot of them gone bit unstable because it was so hard.
      You need to be really really tough and skilled to survive alone.


Leave a Reply


Related Articles

Prepping What Food To Store

What food can be foraged?

Explore the bounty of nature with me as I delve into what food can be foraged, from wild berries to edible plants and mushrooms. Join the adventure!

Read More

Join our Mailing list!

Get the latest on survival, exclusive deals and course updates.