In my world, there was a brutal nuclear war, killing off a large, large amount of humanity. While the (former) working-class and blue-collar survivors spent a century fighting and scavenging in an irradiated desert, those who could afford to do so went underground, into large underground shelters.

After 150 years of deliberating and waiting, three scouts from the downunder are about to embark on a rediscovery of the surface; my question is, what supplies would they need? What supplies would be necessary for subterranean survivors to adapt and survive in the post-nuclear wasteland, and what training could they do in preparation before they leave?

Threats of the Waste

  • UV: These people spent their entire lives underground, in a climate-controlled dwelling, and now must emerge into an environment with a sweltering desert and depleted ozone layer.

  • Thirst: Simple; there is very little clean drinking water, and they'll be out for months; they need a way to secure water for a long, long time.

  • Wildlife/Other people: The creatures and people of this world are hyper-aggressive compared to their underground counterparts. They'll need guns that are easy to use, powerful, and reliable (Bonus if it uses ammo that can be plentifully scavenged).

  • Civilized communities: These towns and settlements scatter the Wasteland, and while they act as safe havens they are usually limited in technology, only having the ability to produce 1800’s era supplies, and scavenge anything else.

  • Radiation: Ambient radiation levels in the environment have increased, and there are some areas “hotter” then others. The locals are adapted to it, but these guys aren’t. Still, it isn’t too much a threat.

Technological level- as of now, answer this question as if these people are operating wth modern day technology.

  • $\begingroup$ A few clarification about environment are needed: 1) Is radiation an issue? 2) Are there any mutated lifeforms which are more dangerous to humans than pre-apocalyptic ones? 3) How densely post-apocalyptic world is populated, and what is their tech level? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Oct 8, 2020 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander: Will answer all, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Oct 8, 2020 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Also, would the survivors have a safe surveillance technology like drones, or they would just boldly go where no underground man has gone before? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Oct 8, 2020 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be easier to dust off the old RPG Gamma World and play a few hours? Or maybe look up how any one of the world's militaries equip themselves for desert/radiation survival? Also, please tell us either (a) what your 150-year Vault dwellers have been doing or (b) tell us specifically what tech level we're working with (note that 99.99% of all our tech today was invented in the last 150 years, so the odds of they being the same tech as us is, well, 0%). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 8, 2020 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ If the scouts need to carry clean water with them, then they're not going farther than a few days' walk until they domesticate some beasts of burden or dust off some vehicles and reinvent how to fuel them. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 8, 2020 at 18:18

4 Answers 4

  • One or more radios, a schedule for using it and agreed code words;
  • small solar charger;
  • survey maps of the local area;
  • radiation meter;
  • water filters;
  • some light trade goods (e.g seeds, some chocolate etc);
  • lightweight binoculars;
  • medical kit including previously mentioned med plus pain killers;
  • torches (red light) and/or nigh vision gear (at least 1 set);
  • Level 111A ballistic vests (after that they get a lot heavier)
  • multi tools and/or a knife.
  • small lightweight 2 person tent (one will always be on guard).
  • at least one weapon each, food, water and a change of cloths, hexi stove & fire lighters, cooking utensils. waterproof poncho, hat, string and or rope.
  • ***an agreed 'extraction point' i.e. a place they are to go to on their way back where they will be met by a team of armed citizens - no going straight back to the bunker.

All the stuff you mentioned in your question, plus:

  • Hayfever medication. You're going to have the worst hayfever of your life, you've been breathing filtered air for generations, welcome to pollen!
  • Wrap around Sunglasses. Your eyes have never seen bright light before.
  • Hats and sunblock. You've never felt UV on your skin before.
  • Antibiotics and antivirals. There are new diseases in the world that your bodies haven't adapted to. You have a decent chance that you could die from chickenpox v2.

Other things to consider are linked in the above link.

  • $\begingroup$ The community could have sued sun lamps as an alternative to socking up on vitamin D. If so your team gets a planned up scaled dosage to prep them for the surface. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Oct 11, 2020 at 4:56


They have spent all their life in partial darkness. Sunlight would be really painful. I haven't been living on a cave myself and yet I am photo-sensible. Imagine those guys.


They're a very powerful weapon, easy to build and to find ammo to. Some prior training would be required though.

  • $\begingroup$ I could be wrong, but to me it seemed implied that the guys underground maintain a pretty high level of tech. Which means they probably don't live in the dark, but it well lit underground cities of some kind. Though sunglasses certainly wouldn't hurt (nice to have in a hot, bright climate like the one described!) I doubt they'd die without them. They are however, gonna need some super good sunblock, given how much UV they are facing and their lack of previous exposure to real sunlight! Also, OP implied they will need guns, so the surface folk likely have tech that makes slings outclassed. $\endgroup$
    – MarielS
    Oct 8, 2020 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Artificial light is way different to the eyes than sunlight. I can guarantee that being a photo-sensible person myself. Regarding the guns, OP stated that ammo supply is an issue. Of course firearms are better than slings, but in a post-apocalyptic world bullets could be hard to make. $\endgroup$
    – Charley R.
    Oct 9, 2020 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, I rescind my criticism of the sunglasses. I agree the light up top is probably going to be WAY brighter than they are used to. They still probably wouldn't die without them, but they would probably be very uncomfortable. Sunglasses should be on all of their packing list! I remain skeptical of using slings against possibly gun-toting surface dwellers, however. They are supposedly around 1800s tech, and that includes guns). $\endgroup$
    – MarielS
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, if they manage to produce gunpowder, they could even shot small stones with a musket / shotgun. It will depend on OP's will. $\endgroup$
    – Charley R.
    Oct 9, 2020 at 18:31

They could use a rope system to bring buckets of water, they could use bullet proof vests to help them from the guns. They could also bring sentry guns with them for when they are sleeping and machine guns with them for when they are awake. To survive the radiation they will need to be given a lot of medicine for it from the rope system. And to deal with the temperature they might have to just bring a lot of blankets with them. That's all that I can thing of. The blankets will make it like one hundred decrease under them so they will need a lot of water but the blankets will keep the tower outside heat out.


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