What I need to survive the zombie apocalypse (revised)

HNG Zombification by Brett DeWall

HNG Zombification by Brett DeWall

One of my earliest HNG posts was titled “What I need to survive the zombie apocalypse.” Since then, The Walking Dead has premiered and risen to cult-like status, not to mention I’ve discovered new products and had about a gazillion more zombie-related nightmares (seriously, there are nights when I hardly sleep at all because of them…bastards).

I think about the zombie apocalypse a lot. Way more than I should. And despite my massive fear of zombies, I’ve watched every episode of The Walking Dead (and Talking Dead) religiously. I’m a glutton for punishment, apparently.

When it comes to the zombie apocalypse, some people get it and some people think that I’m completely ridiculous and insane. I’m of the opinion that it never hurts to be prepared for a disaster, regardless of whether it’s a plague of the undead or an earthquake. You just never know.

So I’m updating my list of must-have items. The original listincluded:

– Two Japanese swords (katana or tachi – although I would totally take a couple of tsurugi’s) … this was long before I knew of Michonne, by the way.

– Some grenades (in case I get surrounded)

– One really good pair of running shoes (uhm, self-explanatory)

– Five ponytail holders (in case some get lost and because rubber bands are really damaging to your hair)

– One kinetic water resistant watch (doesn’t need batteries and can handle some rain)

– One really amazing sports bra (YOU try running around with 34DD’s)

Water purification tablets (alas, I doubt I’ll have easy access to my beloved Arrowhead)

– One pair of Maui Jim sports sunglasses (preferably with one of those landyards that hold them to your head)

– One baseball hat (can’t have sun in your eyes while you’re fighting the undead)

This is one of my faves

This is one of my faves

– As many MRE’s and meal replacement bars as I can carry in a light hiker’s backpack

That’s a pretty darn good list if I do say so myself. But I’ve come to realize that there are other things I’ll be wanting and/or needing. The Zombie Research Society recommends packing items like maxipads and pantyhose. They serve multiple functions and are definitely good suggestions; however, they don’t make it to my list (sorry, Matt Mogk…I still heart you). Remember, I’m a rather petite chick and plan on carrying as little as possible.

So here’s what I’d like to add to my list:

– A sturdy Buck knife (I have a trusty one that my Dad gave me when I became a Brownie Girl Scout…cause my Dad is awesome…and I’ve learned from Andrea that having a knife on you at all times is a life saver)

Thanks Dad!

Thanks Dad!


Pocket knife (also trusty, also given to me by my Dad when I became a Girl Scout)

Brass knuckles (when all else fails, PUNCH the zombies in the head)

– A roll of Duct Tape (because it fixes everything and can be used as improvised light body armor)

– A length of chain and a carabiner (For scrambling up fences or walls or whatever. I’m not sure how long a length I could practically carry but the longer the better. I’d settle for some rope if I had to)

Eye Drops (nothing puts a damper on zombie killing more than getting crap in your eye or having dry eyes. It’s a luxury item, but one I’d like to have)

Chapstick with sunscreen (to protect your knuckles, nose, eartips, and lips from sunburn and chapping)

– Bar of deodorant (not necessarily for body odor, but to prevent chafing. It can help prevent blisters if your shoes don’t quite fit, or if something like, I dunno…a gun holster rubs you the wrong way)

Baby powder (can also be used to prevent chafing and can be used in lieu of shampoo/soap to absorb oil and grease)

Hand or baby wipes (I’m Obsessive Compulsive and my hands must be clean as much as humanly possible. In fact, throw a toothbrush in there too)

– Extra socks (every military guy I know, most of whom are related to me, recommend having extra socks. Plus, I know it’s been mentioned in a ton of movies)

First aid kit with antibiotics and an EpiPen (Duh, this should have been on my original list)

Electrolytes (these bad boys come in handy when you get a muscle cramp. I take them when I go hiking and it helps prevent muscle soreness later as well)

Electrolytes FTW!

Electrolytes FTW!

Night vision goggles (couldn’t hurt to be able to see in the dark)

– Collapsible canteens (a no-brainer and I really prefer them over the condoms the ZRS recommends carrying around)

– A Keeper or Moon Cup (see explanation below)

That last one might be TMI for the guys reading this, but we girls need to think about these things and there’s no guarantee we’ll have a Glenn who’s willing to risk his life for a box of tampons. The Keeper/Moon Cup is a fantastic little gizmo. You can leave it in all day and just rinse and reuse. Plus, it literally lasts for decades. I have yet to find a better alternative for dealing with Aunt Flo during a zombie apocalypse (or a day at the beach). You’re welcome ladies.

If possible, I’d like to throw a gun and a decent amount of ammo on the list but since I don’t currently own a gun, I’d have to pick one up along the way. Luckily, I have a few Dad’s that taught me how to use guns so I’m familiar with them and can pretty much handle any one I manage to grab.

Hopefully I’ll never have to worry about this stuff but I’m tougher than I look and could probably lead my Zombie Apocalypse Annihilation Team (ZAAT) without going batshit crazy a la Rick.

Ready to kick some zombie ass for realz yo

Ready to kick some zombie ass for realz yo

Have anything you think should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I think you’re only missing a strategy. The big mistake folks seem to make in the shows and movies (thanks to the writers, natch) is that they keep running. Would you go looking for someone or The Big Cure, or find a fortress to hole up in?

    1. Kevin says:

      Problem with the “hole up in a fortress” idea is that zombies don’t need food or rest. Once they figure out where you are, they’ll stop at nothing to get to you. Eventually, you’ll run out of food – or the zombies sheer numbers will eventually break down the weakest points of said fortress.

      1. Josh says:

        zombies will lose interest after a while…but honestly i would spend my whole time scouting for the best place and building a badass fortress. even though they eat them alot, what a zombie lacks is brains. and 34DD’s…wowee!!

    2. hotnerdgirl says:

      My family does have a strategy, I’m just not sharing it 😉

      1. See, now everyone knows that you’re prepared, and you have a plan. Come the apocalypse, EVERYONE’s heading to your place…..

  2. madiebeartri says:

    Its like you have everything you need….except an underground bunker made from an old missile silo that is impenetrable.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      That would certainly be handy!

  3. Damien Cote says:

    A SEAL pup is a mulitpurpose knife made of renforced titanium alloy. It can cut through bone, stays sharp, and great for almost any situation. You might want to add a sharpening tool to your list, because I doubt you’d last long with dull blades. Another good idea would be to add a poncho to deal with rain. Having all of your effects get wet wouldn’t end well for you.

    Personally, I’d just take a boat with a bunch of equipment and head out to sea. Can always fish for food, Zombies can’t swim, and you don’t exactly have to sleep with one eye open. Get yourself a water purifier installed on the boat to take either seawater and dilute it or rain water. It’s easy to make, just boil the water and catch the steam. That would filter out the salt and the dirt/bacteria. No need to worry about running out of tablets or filters. Also Solar Panels on the boat would be great for energy. I am pretty sure I’d last a lot longer at sea than on land, assuming I can fight the insanity haha. There’s nothing stopping me from coming ashore every so often. Get a map and just travel up and down the coast, or a star map if I want to travel across the ocean. It would be nice to sleep in a bed too :).

    1. stormkith says:

      I love the idea of living at sea during the zombie apocalypse. Steal a nice yacht, load it up with what you need, and head out. Survive on fish and a water purifier. Make trips in to the coast as needed.

      1. hotnerdgirl says:

        Agreed! That would be a great option! I always think of “WWZ” and the “Dawn of the Dead” remake when it comes to boats during the zombie apocalypse but really, it’s a pretty good plan. It worked for Owen Keegan in “Soldier of Light”!

  4. Things I’d add:
    – bike, so you don’t have to worry about finding fuel or having a noisy muffler announcing your presence
    – bow and arrows, you really don’t want zombies zeroing in on you just because you thought you’d snag some dinner, besides refills are easy to make
    – Toilet paper, copious amounts of toilet paper. I swear this will be the best trade item you could have. when you encounter other groups of survivors
    and instead of the purifying tablets (which you will run out of) get a few of those Life Straws

    1. KenDawg says:

      Even better than life straws (longevity wise) is iodine crystals. Yeah, the water will taste a little “off” but it’ll be safe to drink because you’ll kill off the microbes without boiling but won’t do anything for water contaminated with chemicals such as antifreeze, etc.

      1. iodine crystals are a good idea. Light weight and portable. I also vaguely recall that there was a way you could make more by shaving and boiling antlers?.?.? I’m going to have to do some research on that one, it’s been a VERY long time since my survival course

    2. hotnerdgirl says:

      I figure baby wipes can be used as toilet paper. Plus, tp is light but super bulky. If I have the means to carry it, great. Otherwise, I’m sticking with the wipes.

  5. David E. Chenot says:

    I wanted to point out that MRE’s entered the military’s inventory in the early 80’s, replacing the venerable C-Rations which had been around since WWII. Also, they were canned, and much heavier, hence the move to MRE’s.

    1. brainzz says:

      Thank you. NO ONE has MREs from WWII that are “still good” so many things wrong with that sentence, i disregarded half the story as a result. And yes, “I thought of it before …” is weak as well.

      1. hotnerdgirl says:

        I beg to differ, as long as the can isn’t swollen and it smells ok, it’s still good. I’m not saying it’ll be great food, but it’ll be edible. Also, I stand corrected, my Dad says that most of them are from the 70’s and only a couple are from WWII. I assume you’re referring to the Michonne comment and I didn’t say “I thought of it before…” I said I wanted to have katanas before I knew about the character of Michonne. I most certainly was not claiming credit over Frank Darabont if that’s what you thought.

      2. LoboSolo says:

        One can be picky and say that the true c-rats went out in 1958 and were replaced by the MCI … often wrongly calld ‘c-rations’. I think the MRE started coming in about 1980. I’m showing my age, but I ate both while in the Army. Truthfully, I liked the c-rats (the MCI) better.

    2. hotnerdgirl says:

      Sorry, they’ve been called MRE’s my whole life, I forget that they used to be called C-Rations. I’ve also got some from my brother that are less than a year old. I plan on taking them all with me!

      1. Wayne Underwood says:

        FTR: K-rations were WWII/Korea. C-rations were pre-Vietnam and were joined by LURPS. C’s were eliminated in the mid-80’s by MRE’s. Before the Persian Gulf War, these “Meals Refused by Ethopians” were joined by larger pan meals meant to feed the squad (who’s name I no longer remember). And the ARMY TIMES 18 March issue anounces 20 new reciepes for the MRE’s.

        Most C-ration meals included a ‘clean’ can of crackers, which you could re-use as a cup, or as a bowl to soak the small parts of your weapon in bore-cleaner while you are cleaning the barrel. So, you need to add “bore-cleaner” and “rifle-lub” to your list.

  6. Mike G says:

    You should come up here to Alaska. I have the perfect survival strategy. It’s a little town on Prince William sound called Whittier. It’s accessible only by sea or through a 2.5 mile tunnel under a mountain that can be easily secured. An endless supply of fresh seafood is close at hand and, unless the zombies learn to sail or burrow through solid rock, it is safe.

      1. Drsacul says:

        Too perfect, have you considered that EVERYONE is going to look for this place now? Many people will kill you to be able to survive there. Agreed, it sounds like the ideal location, but i guarantee everyone who goes there will die, if you want more explanation, email me.

  7. dts-01 says:

    Greta overall emergency management kit – with a few flourishes. I’m always sure to have at Least one lighter. Light sticks and/or candles as space & weight permit.

  8. We have an emergency kit in the back of our car, and we have a “Go Bag” in our home. The kit is comprised of the following:

    – Road hazard kit. Tow cables, jumper cables, flares, bunjee cords, and a few other sundries for the car itself
    – First aid kit. We bought a decent one from a local survival shop (sometimes living in AZ is pretty cool). Having one is important just as a general measure. We’ve included an Epi-Pen in ours as well
    – Micro-fiber survival blankets. We have four of them in our vehicle.
    – Flashlights
    – Matches and waterproof container
    – Flint and striker (matches will run out eventually)
    – MRE’s and long-shelf-life camping meals
    – A small cast iron pot (for boiling water, mostly)
    – Bottled water (we’ll pick up some water purification tablets soon as well, it’s an evolving kit)
    – SOG tomahawk – This is a must-have. It’s a lightweight tomahawk that can be used as a tool or a weapon. It’s a great-looking, very cool piece of gear and it doesn’t get taken from the vehicle except to clean it from time to time.

    Our Go Bag includes extra clothing, especially socks, as well as toiletries (toilet paper is a big one, ghostofawriter is absolutely correct on that), ammunition (again, living in AZ can be pretty damned cool sometimes), a weapon cleaning kit, and a couple of towels (taking a note from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). We keep it in a lightweight, water resistant duffel in our closet.

    We also carry pocket and/or combat knives on our person pretty much daily. I know it sounds kind of strange to people who don’t live here, but a lot of folks in Arizona carry some kind of weapon on them at all times, whether a knife or sidearm. My wife has a small pistol she carries in her purse. I’m picking up a sidearm of my own soon. We aren’t “preppers,” not by any real stretch, but we do believe in being prepared. And I will clap my hands and jump up and down if the zombie apocalypse really does happen.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      I’ve got the roadside kit, first aid kit, blankets, and extra sweatshirts in my car but I definitely need to add more. At least I won’t be totally unprepared if I’m not able to make it home!

      1. stormkith says:

        Yeah, we plan on adding a compass, small tent, and a few other things to the kit. At the very least if we get the sudden urge to go camping we won’t have to do much packing.

        1. hotnerdgirl says:

          Yes to the compass! I’ve got one of those in my car as well. And one of those seat belt cutter/flashlight/window hammer things. Those are a must.

          1. Hannah says:

            Also use a good old map! 😀

      2. stormkith says:

        Ooh… good call on that. Maybe not in the kit, but in our glove compartment. Honestly, I find stuff all the time that I want to add to the kit, but if I keep doing that eventually the kit isn’t going to fit in the back of my Sorento.

        1. hotnerdgirl says:

          Haha exactly 😉 It’s tough deciding what you can carry and what you’ll have to leave behind.

  9. mstryda says:

    Just got onto the ZRS website. My productivity here at work has fallen like a meteor. Thanks HNG. 🙁 Atleast I know how to board up my home properly now…

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      Haha! Well, when the zombie apocalypse happens your job won’t matter anyways 😉

  10. Dan Stafford says:

    HNG, you are amazing. That would be a great list for ANY apocalypse. Yowza!

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      Thanks! 🙂 It’s definitely personalized for me. I highly encourage everyone to make their own lists catered towards them.

  11. Lee says:

    Near the top of my list is a crowbar. Tool *and* weapon.

  12. Tom says:

    Don’t over look the usefulness of a spear (knife on a stick basically). With it you have a way to quietly kill zombies through a fence, from a roof or top of a wall/R.V. You can also poke that body from a safe distance with no danger to yourself. It works as a walking stick and you can hunt and fish with it (hard but doable).

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      True! I’ll have to put that duct tape to good use and make some rudimentary tools/weapons.

  13. Mike says:

    Would like to reemphasize leaving off hand grenades. At just under a pound apiece, that’s weight better used for survival gear. The standard M67 frag has a wounding radius of 15m/50ft. Can you throw farther than that? Also, note that frag grenades are designed to wound, rather than kill. Not much use in wounding a zombie.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      The grenade is a part of the old list and was definitely added with “last resort” in mind. In other words, I’d rather blow myself and a bunch of zombies up then get bitten and turned into one myself.

  14. I find it amusing that grenades are on the list, but a gun is not since you don’t currently have one. 😉

    Seriously, though, the eye drops are a great idea. A lot of people forget about little things like that that can get you killed.

    On that note, this isn’t really an item, but I would suggest training in how to use the swords; forgive me if that sounds condescending, but I’ve met more than one smart individual that thinks that they can survive off the land and even hunt animals with a sword with no prior training. Speaking of swords, I would strongly suggest removing one of the swords and using that room/weight for a bow and some arrows (as someone noted, you can make more arrows and it is critical to have *some* kind of long range weapon if you can’t find a gun) and ESPECIALLY for a sharpening stone that you can use to sharpen your sword and knife. One sharp sword is better than two dull ones!

    One area that your list fails to consider is food procurement: With that in mind I’d include a set of strong fishing reel and some fishing hooks. You can always find a branch later to use as a fishing line , and you can also use the line in box traps. (Since you’re a Navy Daughter I’m sure you’ve had training in tying the knots already ;)) A pocket size guide to the plants in your area would also be essential so you don’t find yourself eating something poisonous.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      I agree, I should take a hint from Daryl and swap one of the swords for a bow/crossbow. I didn’t add it because I’m not familiar with how to use them but I have a few friends who are archers, I should get them to give me a lesson. I have some basic sword skills, definitely need more training for sure but I could get by in a pinch, Fishing line/hooks! Duh! Excellent point! Navy brat + theatre geek = good at knots 😉

  15. Robert Lyle says:

    in no particular order, I would consider a wire saw, a 1960 Boy Scout handbook, a Leatherman tool (if you can stand the weight). I like the boat idea, but recommend a sailboat. A katana would let the zombie get too close to you before you chop them up. A machete is lighter and you don’t feel bad using it to chop wood. The shortest sword I would use is a 40 inch rapier. But I really like the idea of a spear, say a 7 to 8 foot half pike… Properly used, that he used to fight up to three men (not zombies, men) with hand weapons and it makes a decent walking stick.and it keeps the zombies well out of reach.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      A machete would work too. I’ll take either. A half pike might be a bit much for me to handle though.

  16. Jason says:

    Shoe Goo or rubber cement. Quick mend for shoes and improvised patching for rain gear.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      Great addition! Also, super glue to quickly seal cuts and minor flesh wounds.

  17. Wilhelm says:

    Night vision monocular. Not goggles. With a bit of mental adjustment it’s almost as good and then if you get a radical change of environment like rapid gunfire or explosion (for whatever dumb ass reason) you’re only half blind instead of completely blind. Still not good, but better then bitten.
    My sword is the hellion from these guys. http://zombietools.net/tools/ cause I like the falcata and it’s lighter then a broadsword which is the only other sword I know how to use.
    Box and arrow is great for hunting food, not so sure it’d be useful against zombies… Definitely quieter then a gun but a lot less likely to kill them I would think.
    Never underestimate the benefit of clean dry socks. And failing all else they also make tolerably decent bandages when combined with rigger’s tape aka 1,000 mph tape, duct tape or redneck repair kit.
    I have a colapasable baton that I’m taking over brass knuckles. A bit more heavy but a little reach is never a bad idea when it comes to zed. Then again weight is rather less of an issue for me then someone your size.

    As for a plan, at sea is great until you hit a storm. You really want something partially isolated with easily controlled access, like Mike G’s. Island might be good depending on the size and location but weather could be a problem again.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      That sword is pretty bad ass. I like it. So do a lot of other people since it’s on back order 😉 I’ll have to think about the monocular vs. goggles. I’m all about the extra socks!

    2. stormkith says:

      Heh. I have a great Cold Steel kukri machete that I may have to add to my kit. It’s just collecting dust in my closet anyways.

  18. Duct tape is only 1/2 of a universal equation. The other is WD40. One puts stuff together – the other gets stuff apart.
    Also you may not need water purification tabs as their is now a big drinking straw techy – thingy that is being distributed presently in 3rd world places that you can use to get good drinking water practically anywhere. It was on one of the sci-tech fb sites – miraculous – hope it works as good as they say – will be practically revolutionary.

    1. hotnerdgirl says:

      A few people have mentioned this straw-thingy, I definitely need to check it out!

  19. Prototype S582 says:

    As for the knife, I would replace the Buck with a good one piece hollow handle survival knife… It gives you that extra place for a set of matches, fish hooks, and dental floss (which is a GREAT multi-use item for teeth, sutures, fishing line, and mending clothes….). Obviously don’t keep all your survival eggs in one basket… Disperse them throughout your pockets, backpacks, and other places so if you drop/leave something…

    …Chris Reeve Knives is a great brand to look up for those one piece hollow handle knives. Don’t by the cheap stuff, they break.

  20. IamJacksUserName says:

    Simple camping skills will come in handy.

    While sick with the flu this past Jan. I found this guy Ray Mears who been on BBC for years teaching the art of “Bushcraft” to viewers. Bushcraft is a set of skills allowing one to not just survive in the wild. but live there. Check him out. He has a pleasant demeanor that isn’t as “EXTREME” as some of the other clowns on TV.

    The BioLite camp stove is cool little device, you can use an endless source of wood to boil water to make it safe, or cook for 1 or 2 people. It also uses the heat from the stove to power a small thermoelectric generator that will recharge your USB powered device. (Limited of about 2W @5V)

    You’ll need to cut wood for shelters, heat, and cook with. So you’ll need an axe for felling and chopping.

    A saw for making cross grain cuts.

    And a good knife for wood working. I have this one.

    The shorter 3.5″ blade is easier to use on fine work, and the beveled edge makes it idiot proof to sharpen. Like a good axe, it should be made from carbon steel not stainless or god help me, titanium. Remember: harder metals like SS or T will not dull as quickly but will be much harder to put an edge on it, once it does go dull. Carbon steel is easier to put a razor sharp edge on it. Though you may have to sharpen it every few days with high use.

    Finally, you’ll need proper ammo. I’d suggest Hornady ZOMBIE MAX JHP. It available in the most popular handgun rounds ( 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, even .380ACP),

  21. I’ll just leave it with “Hope you watch the season ending on Sunday of The Walking dead” that’s all carry on.

  22. Ryan says:

    Guys, please correct me if i need something else,
    These are my list:
    – A Hammer (It has crowbars on it)
    – A pair of handy military knifes, Swiss Army Leatherman Wave type
    – Backpack
    – MRE or Astronaut food
    – You’ll need a Hideout
    – Goggles (you dont want zombie guts on your eyes, especially they are full of virus)
    – Instant water purification bottles

    I choosing the hammer coz its more handy, and i prefer smashing their head than stabbing them,. youll need to learn Parkour (i have learned it) and Martial arts dont use the Karate coz its sucks learn how to Judo, Kung Fu, or Silat

  23. Hannah says:

    A good thing to take is honey it lasts practically forever and a good sweetener for many foods. Makes a good trade item too

  24. Claire says:

    You need a bandana america is fat and only getting fatter. I’m just ballparking numbers here, but let’s say the average American weighs 170 pounds. So, New York is gonna have… Let’s see, 9 million times 170… New York’s gonna have 1,530,000,000 pounds of rotting human flesh sashaying about. You’re gonna want to sprinkle some old spice on your bandana and wrap it around your face to help with the stench.