Walk Alone?

I’ve been a bit caught up in the discussion about survival colonies and the benefits over the small family unit and the “Lone Warrior” sort of thing.

Basically I follow the belief that a small (preferably family) unit has a lot more flexibility than a larger more organized settlement aka colony.

I don’t however follow the other extreme view of some preppers and survivalists that ALONE IS BEST. 

Laying out my basic thoughts might show where I’m coming from.


A single leader in a colony NEVER works over a long time.
At some time they have to delegate, at that time the next point kicks in.

Usually a colony has a quasi-military hierarchy and leadership.
Whilst I believe in letting expert knowledge lead, most colony leadership has a degree of “politics and philosophy” rather than “the experienced professionals” in charge. It rarely runs to the more efficient structured no-nonsense military format.

Management by committee.
Whilst advice should be sought and opinions listened to, there is always a danger that too much discussion will lead to hesitation and indecision. Also a degree of favoritism or perceived sense of status will reveal itself.

Once that starts, you have a government.  
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
(George Orwell Animal Farm).

Large groups that have been “designed and practiced”
are often unable to improvise or adapt to rapidly changing situations.
They often rely on the equivalent of a play book or even constitution.

Large groups tend to build fortresses AND even worse a fortress mentality.
In the event of a bug out, their judgment is often colored by the loss of facilities or logistics, and the logistics of moving the whole group.

Lets face it colonies should be made up of equal parts men and women.
Even if it isn’t an isolated under stress environment, bust ups are a part of natural living OR (more likely in a survivalist vein), as a result of living in a system of absolute control.
That’s wearing on the individual or pairing. Conflict is inevitable.

Once partners split up, conflict within the group starts.
Unless they are BOTH RELEASED OR FORCED OUT of the colony such “unbalance” will result in loss of colony cohesion. 

In any colony there are the “bad jobs” to be done.
Without strong leadership and unbiased rotation of duties, some will feel “put on”. Eventually that will lead to claims of favoritism.
Once that starts, all the discussion in the world won’t solve any resentment.
Once resentment starts, the colony is finished.

Security is easier to achieve with a large group.
The numbers game SHOULD mean that guard duties are split and everyone gets enough rest. That’s vitally important in a survival situation. The problem is all that man power. It requires a lot of logistics, room, and sticks out like a sore thumb. BIG IS BAD WHEN TRYING TO MAINTAIN A LOW PROFILE.
The very size is an attraction to marauders and the authorities.
Your obvious success will be a magnet to all.

Remember the fortress mentality?
The fortress mentality of colonies can be inflexible and counterproductive with newcomers who are generally treated with mistrust as opposed to what possible gains they can offer. There again there is the “What to do about callers” problem.

  • What if you operate a closed-door policy?
    That may end up as an attack. 

    Don’t forget even if you have a fortress, you may have to come out to forage. Refusal to “cooperate” could end up in a siege.
  • What if you let just anyone in?
    If you become selective, the above applies, you could end up being attacked. There again you could always just kill those deemed “unworthy”.
    Let everyone in and that’s going to be a huge strain on your resources let alone the danger of accidentally letting an enemy agent in who is accessing your defensive capabilities and your weaknesses.
    Or, worse still, a carrier of infection either biological or psychological with tales of better somewhere else. That could cause disharmony let alone an unbalance to the groups pairing.
  • What’s your policy about “joining”?
    Will your policy be to disarm and hand over your stores, etc?
    My reaction to such a request would be way impolite.
    (F’ You sort of thing.) Personally I’d be suspicious at any other reaction.


A family unit benefits greatly by a closer cohesion and above all inherent trust of each other.

Knowledge is often well disseminated.
Whilst one MAY know more, the other party learns a lot by simple osmosis. Everyone has “skills” and within a family unit they are shared and given freely.

Communication is often easier and in most cases non verbal.

Flexibility is based round that cohesion and communication.
Being small mobility is easier, logistics is easier.

Most family groups are too small for protracted survival.
We are only two plus the dog. We readily acknowledge that is too small for long-term survival.
Ideally, long-term,  we would need more to share the load.
We would be looking for one other “paired” family unit to join us.


Flexibility is their ultimate strength,
Their loneliness 
their weakness.
They have to keep moving as building a fortress / lair is largely indefensible against anything greater than a single foe. This prevents long-term planning.

Logistics are easy
Coping with one and maybe a dog is simple.
Foraging / scavenging for one can be tactically dangerous though. You have no one to watch your back. Except your dog.

Why do I always push the dog bit?
A good dog is a mobile forager, battery free alarm system, hot water bottle, and companion. If all else fails, it can be sent in to check things out.
It’s got better 6th senses, hearing, and a nose than you’ll ever have.

Load carrying
One person, one pair of hands, one back.
You have to travel light and your equipment will therefore be limited. Fine while there is a surplus laying round but after a while the easy pickings might just evaporate.

Everything has to be done by one.
Another weakness as they can’t share the workload.
They never get a break. Just how long can one person survive without sleep?
It doesn’t even work with one plus a dog.
To sleep and rest PROPERLY needs a shift pattern.
If you are awake, so is the dog. Neither of you end up fully rested.

A lone person will be looked on as a danger or with mistrust.
Tactically you are at a disadvantage as even the most simple of gesture or comment could lead to you being instantly disarmed, harmed or both.

Don’t get sick on your own.
Finally if you are on your own and get sick, hurt, or just unable to cope (either physically or mentally) the slide into hell can be pretty quick.
The effects of Hypothermia or even hyperthermia (heat stress) can be subtle.
Without human companionship you could miss the signs.
Remember my (not) love of bugs and checking yourself regularly.
It’s so much easier and safer in a pair.

And finally
Tactically a single person and large group have their advantages and disadvantages. Mostly disadvantages IMHO.

I wouldn’t trust a singleton if I came across one.
They may have been “damaged” by events and therefore unpredictable.

As for large groups?
Stuff the “common good” bit. Stuff the structured approach.
Large groups can be more dangerous as they will have a misplaced belief that there is power in numbers. They are more likely to disarm and strip you of your weapons and equipment “for the common good”.

A small tight-knit (family) group tends to have more balance and flexibility than the other two.  Add to that two is better than one when it comes to personal hygiene.

No, IMO the smaller number “family” unit is the only effective answer to short to medium survivability.

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