A group of 25 survivors, consisting of engineers, MacGgyvers, and tinkerers, have constructed around ten slow-moving motorized wagons (resembling wagons but with engines instead of horses) carrying all their essential supplies. They plan to travel from the east coast to the west coast through the zombie-infested heart of the continent.

Since the motorized wagons travel at approximately 5 miles per hour, the survivors cannot complete the entire journey in one go. Additionally, these vehicles have been built using scraps from older civilization and require frequent maintenance. Consequently, the group travels during the day and sets up camp at night (occasionally for two nights).

The camp requires several facilities: a cooking and washing area, sleeping quarters (some in wagons and others in tents), a small workshop to repair the wagons, and a relaxation zone, along with the ten motorized wagons. The survivors possess enough supplies to last the entire journey as long as they camp for an average of two days.

The zombies move slowly (around 2 miles per hour) but are extremely lethal at close range and relentless. Some survivors take turns keeping watch at night while others sleep, but they grow tired due to the daily traveling demands. The roads are bumpy and uneven (also, the weather is hot and the wagons have to go off the roads due to various reason--old civilization's roads are in ruins) making it challenging for even designated guards to rest. Travel is harsh for all survivors.

Although some armed individuals maintain a guard, the survivors require a more dependable method to protect themselves from zombies while camping. What is the safest way to establish a camp with, for instance, a barricade, given that it: (a) is strong enough to prevent zombie entry and alert survivors of a breach, (b) is lightweight enough to be transported in the wagons, and (c) can be easily dismantled and reassembled at a new campsite the following day?

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    $\begingroup$ Frame challenge: use a boat and sail around Cape Horn, as people often did when travelling across the continental United States was hard, slow and dangerous. $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Commented Jun 24 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ what are the capabilities of your zombies? For exemple in The Walking Dead zombies have very poor eyesight, so poor they can't make the difference between a fellow zombie and a human covered in guts up close, but can detect the smell of living flesh provided it's not covered by another scent and react pretty well to sounds, which makes the use of firearms hazardous. They also have no mystical sense that would tell them where to find humans in some instinctive way. Without this kind of details it's quite hard to give more than a general answer that won't be specific to your work. $\endgroup$
    – armand
    Commented Jun 25 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Pere Building a big enough ship and learning how to use it, and how to navigate around the world, probably without detailed maps, seems a bit out of the capabilities of these survivors. $\endgroup$
    – Bubbles
    Commented Jun 25 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ East coast to the west coast of... Africa? India? Canada? Iceland? USA? Nicaragua? Japan? $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 25 at 6:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Mattieu: To use the Panama canal you need to man the locks and have them in working order - which would be hard even if Panama zombies weren't trying to eat you. I think it's easier to sail around South America. $\endgroup$
    – Pere
    Commented Jun 25 at 8:06

17 Answers 17


Don't stop

The wagons are basically armored tanks moving faster than the zombies can go(at least as far as they know). The only way the zombies can really threaten them is when they are stopped and the zombies catch up. Thus, they should be minimizing the time spent stopped.

The caravan can still do most things without stopping fairly easily, such as scavenging, eating, etc. Even if someone has to stop for a few minutes, it's not a big deal since they can just catch up(the wagons aren't moving that fast after all). The main thing is maintenance. For this, I would recommend having one wagon tow another in neutral. The engine can now be maintained since it's disconnected from the wheels. It will be a hassle, but it's worth being permanently out of reach of the zombies. Cooking, washing, and eating can all be done on the move as well. Again, it's a hassle, but worth it. It also means they don't need to carry many defenses with them, saving on space. They may still have plans for making a wagon fort in case of emergency, but really they should try to always be on the move, no matter what. Stopping presents the risk of being swarmed, and that's never great.

TL;DR Stopping is dangerous, do everything on the move and never stop moving.

EDIT: @Nosajimiki pointed out that doing maintenance on something while it's moving is hard. An alternative might be putting it on a (very strong) trailer instead of towing it in neutral to make it easier to maintain.

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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that we're talking about a several thousand mile off-road trip which will take at least a solid month when driving non-stop at top speed. I'm skeptical that "don't stop" is a good plan that won't fall flat at the first unforeseen circumstance. It's a good plan for when things are going well, but we need to prepare for the worst. Stopping is dangerous and may be unavoidable on such a long trip, and should be prepared for. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie That's why I included that plans for something like a wagon fort would probably needed for emergencies, but I think "don't stop" should be the goal. Plus, there have been examples of non-stop journeys in our world, although it is likely a tad bit harder here. $\endgroup$
    – Bubbles
    Commented Jun 25 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ The "don't stop" strategy only works as long as you are in front of the zombies. However, there might be situations where you stumble into the zombies instead of them running after you. I am not sure if the speed advantage of the bulky wagons is enough to always avoid a direct confrontation. Also, there might be environmental aspects that can prevent them from just circling around the zombies. If you want to avoid these dangerous environments, you would need very good knowledge of the geographics to be able to navigate without stopping or scouting. $\endgroup$
    – BenjyTec
    Commented Jun 26 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ Simply not feasible. Going at 5mph in a straight line from NYC to SF will take 24 days of continuous driving, and that is straight-line. If you account for obstacles (Rocky Mountains, etc) even a no-stop drive would probably take at least two months. There is no way that a home-built vehicle can do this without breaking down many times in a way which requires stationary fixes. While you might be able to refill coolant or even patch a leak on the go, you can't change a tire or an axle casually. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Jul 1 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ As for doing the repair on the move while on a trailer, this doesn't really make sense from a vehicle performance perspective. This would mean that every single vehicle in the fleet needs a performance or torque overhead to easily tow another identical and fully loaded vehicle, while keeping up with the caravan. Then, doing the repair itself would likely be extremely difficult. Any trailer would be very small (it needs to stay towable after all) and cramped, and it would also be shaking around the whole time. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Jul 1 at 21:18

A circle of wagons would seem promising, but a fort can also become a trap. If you are besieged by zombies, you are stuck. More zombies arrive and things get worse.

Your main defense is speed. Go at twice the speed of the zombies. Travel light and keep going when you can. Pick a campsite with no cover so they cannot get close without you knowing. Have a watchtower with thermal imaging cameras if you can find them, or searchlights if you can't. Or use focussed listening devices to hear them coming. Use drones to spy out the territory if you can get the bits. Always have a plan for escape. Provided you weren't followed, back the way you came would be best as you know the route is passable. If you weren't being followed, face the vehicles back the way you came. Clear room to turn if they come from an unexpected direction.

Then, and only then, form the vehicles in a circle. This will help you fend off any initial attack if they get that far. But your first priority is to get out of there as soon as you can.

If one of the vehicles cannot move, there are tough decisions. There will presumably be one vehicle that is more able to pull than the others. When you stop, re-stow the loads to the other vehicles so this will not hold up the convoy, and hitch up the breakdown, ready to go. Then try to mend it.

On watch, and having trouble keeping awake? Tough. Falling asleep on watch on land and sea carried a death sentence in the armed forces. Here the same applies, but the rest of your team get it too. Stay awake! You can sleep when you are moving.

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    $\begingroup$ are thermal imaging cameras useful to detect stuff that is dead and therefore more or less at ambiant temperature? I'd go with light amplification goggles. Zombies could be handwaved to be warm, though. They are magic after all. $\endgroup$
    – armand
    Commented Jun 25 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ @armand: As far as I’m aware there is a fundamental, chemical limit to muscle efficiency at around 25%. If the zombies move under muscle power they have to emit heat. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 25 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ @armand - The newer night vision goggles with edge detection should work well. gizmodo.com/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ I'd consider other formations rather than "circle". Circle is good because it provides the maximum interior area, however the Oregon-trail circle of wagons was designed as an endurance measure: raiders were faster and more mobile, so the goal was to be able to withstand and endure against a rapid assault. In the zombie scenario, there is no enduring: the goal isn't to outlast the infinite hoard, but rather to get away from them. As such, I'd position the wagons in maybe a box or even a line so that all of them can just "go" without any need for turning or reversing. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Jul 1 at 21:23

Movable palisade kept in place by the weight of the wagons, wagons disposed in a circle, then use barbed wire of military type on top of the palisade.

For additional safety when the ground allows it, you can dig a trench with walls as steep as possible.

The palisade elements can be carried on top or on the side of the wagons during the day and quickly lowered when needed: you might run into an ambush during the day, and you don't want to go out and do anything in that case.

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    $\begingroup$ Hussites rates 10/10. Google 'Hussite wagon fort' (wagenburg) for some 15th century inspiration. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ Rolls of razor wire should make excellent palisades against zombies and are very lightweight. Maybe enhance with some bells so you hear when some zombies tries to climb through them. $\endgroup$
    – quarague
    Commented Jun 24 at 10:57
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    $\begingroup$ @quarague and whistles, add some whistles. Bells and whistles are what make the bandwagon hippy-dippy. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ @quarague I can forsee some problems with that. Such wire will require maintenance. You need to remove any zombie, whether still animated or not, from the wire before continuing. Otherwise you have overall stench and disease on the wire, as well as remains that can degrade the wire more quickly. Storing it can be a pain (barbed wire Christmas lights come to mind), as well as dangerous for anyone trying to store it. Again, no antibiotics and pieces of zombie left on it is a combination for a bad time. Though a great idea if you have an endless supply or a good way to clean and store it. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Commented Jun 24 at 19:36

Retail Shop Roller Shutters

All of this is based on the premise that you have "standard" zombies incapable of climbing.

Retail Shop Roller Shutters are strong, compactable, and easy to deploy. You can get them from any mall or mechanic's shop in a variety of heights and lengths and styles. I wouldn't want more than 10-15ft long ones mostly because of the potential for uneven ground leaving significant gaps, but that depends on how smart your Zs are! I think the most effective would be ones with holes so you could stab through to kill Zs if you end up with too large a following, but solid metal ones would do the trick about as well.

The idea is these collapse upward into a solid rectangular box. Have a couple of these on the roof of your forts. When you've found a suitable site, extend from the lead vehicle backward and the following vehicle secures it. Then drop! You could build a triangular palisade this way with your survivors neatly out of harm's way for the whole setup process. You could build a fort with sufficient interior space using six vehicles, but it would be easy to expand that number if needed or contract it down to a minimum of 2 vehicles (if things go badly for your survivors or you have to split the party). Generally speaking I think you'd have eight vehicles as part of your wall and two inside. If we're talking 20ft long vehicles with 15ft long shutters that means (pray for me I'm bad at math) you have an interior space of something just under 3000 sqft, with about (assuming your vehicles are 10ft/20ft) 1000sqft of that space taken up by your inside vehicles. Not bad at all!

Once you've gotten the fort set up (completely out of Zombie range if you need to) you can decamp and kill anything in your fort. Then you can anchor the rollers with additional spikes/whatever to ensure nothing lifts them up in the night (or better yet, build a lock into the top of the shutter), with tripwires hung with bells a few inches behind the bottoms of the shutters to alert you in case they're pushed back too far by weight of bodies or something tries to dig underneath!

If you want to be doubly secure (you're planning on a multi-day stop, standard overnight practice if you have to camp at a high-Z spot, what have you) you could have an inner and outer fence. Just double the amount of shutter "booms" on your vehicles. In that case the outer fence should certainly be made up of shutters with gaps so your guards can stab outwards. Guards would normally be posted on top of the (presumably more than 8ft tall) vehicles, probably just 2-3 given your total number of survivors. They could use ladders to get down in between double-walled sections of perimeter if they need to. Simple cloth "blinds" could be set up on top of your vehicles to allow your guards to stand watch while not being seen by Zs.

The remaining two vehicles would be parked side-by-side in the center of the encampment. These would function as your sleeping quarters, with survivors sleeping inside and on top of the vehicles for maximum security.

Metal skirts would also need to be deployed on your vehicles to stop things slipping under them at night, and the passenger sides would need to be relatively free of entry points (no windows someone could crawl through, etc). Shutters could also work here, with interior latches so they could be deployed from inside the vehicle.

Always choose a campsite with maximum open space around it to ensure that you can spot zombies from as far away as possible. With about 2,000sqft to work with most days you could easily have enough space for everything that has to happen outside of your two inner fort vehicles. Even the loss of two vehicles would still give you about 1,000sqft of working area once the inner vehicles are accounted for. So not bad!

Additionally, these would be pretty easy to pack up in a hurry. If a section got breached and everyone fled back to the vehicles they could be retracted and moved into traveling mode from inside the vehicles themselves. If you picked the right shutters the rectangular boxes would even be solid enough to walk on, so even if a neighboring vehicle was overrun someone could balance-beam across, unlatch, and get back to the working ride!

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the DIY'ness while being open & honest about the main assumption (no climbing) to make it work. $\endgroup$
    – ojdo
    Commented Jun 26 at 12:56

Why are you traveling by day and stopping at night? The activities you describe: repair, relaxation, food prep (and potentially foraging) will all be much easier during daylight. More importantly, keeping watch for your specific threat vector while stopped will be VASTLY easier in daylight.

There are some disadvantages, of course. Sleeping during the day is biologically taxing, but modern science has come to a general consensus that being eaten by zombies is even more harmful. Traveling during the dark is generally eschewed because it:

  1. limits maximum speed,
  2. increases risk of accident and injury to people and especially horses/oxen, and
  3. obliges travelers to consume fuel/energy to provide illumination.

Those are compelling considerations in our world, historical and present. But your considerations are different. Point by point:

  1. Your top speed is already capped at 5mph, darkness shouldn't make it worse
  2. At 5mph, even with rough roads and minimal headlights there's very low (but not zero) risk of darkness-related accidents and obstacles. You have no animals to break legs or be upset about nocturnal schedules.
  3. Given that your initial plan already involved setting up camp and keeping watch at night, you'd need even more lighting projected in all directions, which is much greater challenge/cost than what's required to illuminate the path ahead for a slow-moving caravan.

The rest of your question deals with the specific materials and design of defensive structures, but that's unanswerable without you giving more details about the expected threat. Do they climb? How strong are they? Are they "smart" enough to go around or under when that's optimal, or will they mindlessly press directly towards their target regardless of obstructions and constrictions? Is the threat specifically grabbing/biting, or do survivors need to be wary of fluids and potentially more as well? Are survivors expecting to face dozens, hundreds, or thousands?

  • $\begingroup$ Good points. Sleeping in the vehicles (when they move during the night) is an option for those who don't want to sleep during the day. Small modifications to the vehicles can even make this option preferable, making travel during night even more appealing. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 4 at 20:42

Assuming the zombies are only interested in living humans they can detect immediately and won't investigate a bunch of wagons that weren't there yesterday, all you have to do is stay nimble and stealthy.

The first security is to not attract any attention: no light at night outside of the wagons, covers on every window. No noise at night or in poor visibility conditions, when approaching threats can't be detected from afar.

As long as the group remains mostly undetected, the only protection you need against wandering solitary zombies is to sleep inside or on top of the wagons. A hatch to access the roof safely is an essential feature.

Large hordes have to be avoided at all cost by keeping a light footwork and being able to pack and leave in a few minutes notice. That means no time consuming defensive setup like a ditch or a fence. What is more, it could prevent your rapid departure by creating a choke point for your wagons. If a horde can't be avoided, everyone has to take shelter in a wagon and stay quiet for possibly a few days, waiting for them to leave. Prepare food rations and means to address natural needs in every wagon. In any case this is a last ditch situation, as a simple sneeze means certain, brutal death. In case the horde follows, every hour of travel gives the group 1 hour and a half before the horde catches up, 4 hours gives you a 6 hour sleep period of safety. Of course losing the horde by changing direction once out of sight remains the best option.

Equipment should be spread as evenly as possible in each wagon in order keep the possibility to abandon a broken vehicule at a moments notice. Very important pieces of equipment that can't be spread should be packed so that it can be moved to a moving wagon if necessary.

Lastly, assuming humans who die even without being bitten turn into zombies, everybody should go to sleep chained to something with the key in their pocket, so that they can unlock themselves fast but only if they still have their senses.


Most of the answers revolve around not stopping. Which, admittedly, is probably the best tactic.

But I wanted something a bit more creative.

A Modified Helium Blimp

So, hear me out: During travel time, it is packed away, inside one of the wagons, with bottles of compressed Helium (this may present a bit of a challenge, but with enough salvaged parts...) - when they are nearing their destination, they start inflating it.

By the time they come to a stop, the Blimp is ready to go - It is Moored to all of the vehicles (which stay on the ground) by a nice well oiled cable (so the Zombies cannot climb up it).

Reasons this is a good idea:

1: It is portable and can be packed up or down relatively quickly.
2: It creates an Air-gap between the Zombies and the Survivors. Other systems are based on stopping the Zombies coming in - but this creates a layer of separation between the two.
3: One or part of the Wagons could be made into a sleeping, cooking and washing quarters (Maintenance would have to be done on the ground - but I will get to that in a min)
4: By having all the survivors elevated, you get better view of the surrounding area, both for scouting, travelling and Zombie detection
5: Because of the extra visibility, when you do need to do Vehicle maintenance, you go from the best visibility of about 3 miles (assuming perfectly Flat Land) and being able to spot a Zombie at maybe 1 Mile out - if you have a Scope of some sort or Binoculars, maybe 2 miles out, but with a bit of elevation (say 30 ft off the ground would be sufficient) you have a huuuuuge increase in visibility and therefore warning - enough time to pack up tools and move or get up to the Blimp.
6: If this is for a story - you have lots of potential plot devices such as high winds and other things as to why this isn't always an option (to increase the danger).

Oh and what size Blimp - why we have an answer for that: Ideas here

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    $\begingroup$ Helium is a scarce resource, especially during an apocalypse. May I suggest a hot air balloon? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ I thought about that - but the light and noise from the burners might be a problem and the lifting capacity as well is an issue. Could always go with having a Hydrogen balloon - which would be easier to acquire - just would have a few... Hindenburg size problems with it... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ If you don't build the whole balloon out of the most inflammable materials, and don't have someone load an incendiary bomb into your craft. hydrogen's not as bad as people think. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JourneymanGeek just keep the hydrogen concentration over at least ~80% volumentric and its indeed quite save. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27 at 10:53

Ditch 'n dike

There is a problem with palisade walls, barbed wire and any other. They can break. With zombies being incredibly dangerous in close quarters it can't survive long before you need more materials and maintenance to keep such things working. It is why the vehicles are moving, as well as not used to sleep in. They can be armoured like a palisade, but this is not working.

It isn't the easiest method or always possible, but I would go for the ditch 'n dike. The method goes as follows:

  1. Take a shovel (or multiple).
  2. Dig a ditch.
  3. Use sand from ditch to make an earthen wall.

This does several things. First, all your sound is reduced or redirected by the wall. This should protect your people by just being less noticeable. Next is that the ditch will allow zombies to go down. The wall right next to the ditch should then be steep and smooth enough to prevent climbing, at least for zombies. The trick is that the ditch wall combo doesn't need to be very high to already prevent the zombies from gaining access. The wall is also difficult to destroy, unless they suddenly start to master digging and the like. Your survivors might still be able to scale the wall, using adrenaline and speed to jump and scramble up the wall. Other survivors can assist, as wellas something as simple as a rope.

It also offers an advantage in dispatching zombies. You can from relatively safety smack at zombies from an elevated position. Spears or any equivalent can be used to quickly strike at a zombie's head.

There are difficulties. The ditch can be impossible to erect in some areas. It is also time consuming, though not as much as you might think for trained people. Especially if you do not need to dig far down, thanks to moving the dirt next to it for a wall. Lastly you have the problem of the vehicles needing to pass the next day. You'll need to either have a temporary bridge vehicle/planks for a quick exodus, or shovel some dirt back (and pack it sturdy).

That being said, with some planning and knowledge of the land you can use this tactic on a lot of places. It is simple in it's execution, though time consuming and dependent on the weather. Though if the weather is bad, zombies might have too much sensory input anyway to find survivors.

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    $\begingroup$ I believe digging is way, way too time- and effort-consumming to be a viable solution for everynight camping (without automotive tools like diggers, earthmovers, etc.). You’d need the whole day to dig your ditch & dike, and even longer if you start at nightfall. Bangalore torpedoes might help, but they are noisy and single-use. $\endgroup$
    – breversa
    Commented Jun 25 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know if this is feasible, if they had excavators on their wagons, they could do this.. But, with just manpower? Romans did something similar But, they had each person dig a little less then a foot of 3 foot deep ditch (a maniple of 120 people would dig ~75' of ditch) with 25 people assuming they are just as capable as romans are, they could manage 5 meters of ditch... not really enough to make anything. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25 at 13:44

Scaffolding Kits

Scaffolding is an exceedingly common resource in the modern day, every city, every town and even in the suburbs you'll find buildings under maintenance wrapped in structures of steel or aluminium poles connected together with bolts and clamps.

So load up one of your wagons with as much of this as it can haul.

You can then construct a simple palisade wall around your encampment with these poles, supplemented with whatever materials you can strap to them, such as wooden poles, branches from the forest or anything else reasonably solid you can find.

Focus on vertical poles, with horizontal ones on the inside to give strength without providing footholds to climb over (assuming your zombies are able to climb)

If you have enough, you could feasibly construct a lightweight Guard-Tower/Lookout post with them as well.

When it's time to pack up, you should be able to quickly loosen the bolts/straps that hold it together using hand-tools, and half a dozen strong men and women can quickly load it all onto your wagons.

If you need to abandon some of it in place, you can always replace whatever you lost with more materials in the next town you come across.

The downside? Steel poles are heavy, a 6m Galvanised steel scaffolding tube is 10kg, and you'll probably need more than 100 of them, so we're talking about over a ton of metal to carry with you.

If you can find wooden or aluminium ones, that would be much easier to work with. and you may need to spread your stock of them across the various vehicles rather than overload one waggon with literal tons of steel poles.

If you were in the right parts of Asia, Bamboo poles would serve the same purpose and be substantially lighter, but in the US, Aluminium or wood are likely to be more available.


Just stay mobile.

I'll assume the US, though I any continent is going to face similar terrain variations. I've traveled the US coast-to-coast and back in an RV both east/west and north/south. For vehicles like a bus or RV to make that journey, your world needs to be within a few dozen years from the fall of civilization. Without the roads we have today, you would have a hard time getting past plant life and wet dirt. The Appalachian mountains are going to be nearly impossible to cross without some bridges, and you still have the Mississippi river and even bigger mountains out west to pass.

If a bus or RV sized vehicle is possible, you can sleep inside or on top and add some motion detectors to the roof. Take off the moment the alarm fires. A bus door should keep a slow moving zombie at bay for enough time to start driving again.

Once roads and bridges fail, you will need to return to small wagons that can be made to float across rivers. Perhaps that was your plan. By this point, fossil fuel is probably gone. You certainly can't bring enough with you nor depend upon finding it along the route.

Solar panels and electric motors might work, but the roof of a small wagon is only going to hold 1,000 watts of solar panels at best. At peak sun, you aren't even going to power a blow dryer. Your team will need to stop for several hours in the middle of the day to spread out additional panels, then drive mornings and evenings. The mid-day charge could be an interesting moment of vulnerability for your story. Once zombies are spotted, the team has to race to pack the panels. If the team can't find a clearing, they must decide between the risk of being ambushed versus running out of power.

I think your best bet with small wagons is early detection. Bring some dogs, place bells and trip wires around the perimeter, and be ready to move.

I see other answers suggesting digging a moat, but that is hundreds of feet of digging for 10 vehicles. In some areas, the soil is soft enough that it might work, but soil differs across the country. You could spend all day digging thick clay in the midwest and you might need explosives in the SW deserts.

  • $\begingroup$ the mid day stop is also when you should be getting the most sleep, your stuck for hours anyway. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 27 at 20:32

Fishing Line

Fishing line is lightweight, strong, quick to set up, and doesn't impact your visibility. Use a bunch of wooden stakes and build "fences" to funnel / slow down the zombies.

Something like:

  1. First fence is line at ankle level just to trip the zombies and draw your attention. Use bells / tin cans full of rocks to add a noise component.

  2. Second fence is line at ankle, knee, and chest level to completely block zombies. Build it in a star pattern, where the innermost portions of the star are open. You've now funneled the zombies into a couple of known locations, which is where you deal with them.

  3. Third line is a complete fence in a close circle around the camp - it's your final line of defense if something goes wrong.

Deal with the Zombies

You're moving fast enough that you won't attract a huge crowd of zombies - you'll out run them instead. So as long as you pick a reasonably open area, you'll only have to deal with the zombies who wander through in the night, and maybe the zombies you passed by in the last hour or two of your previous day's travel.

So just kill them.

Funnel them into the known locations with your fishing line fence, and then set up some simple zombie killing machines. Think: large blades on springs at ankle level that a single person can hand-crank in a minute or two. Manually finish off the crawling zombies with a hammer to the head.

Misc Thoughts

  1. Gunfire is your alarm. You should be able to deal with the zombies with simple tools, so if someone starts shooting that's the signal that everyone needs to wake up and get to work.

  2. Visibility. You'll need to notice quickly if your fences are damaged or if a too-large group of zombies is in-bound. Camp in an open area, and bring lots of floodlights to light up the fence-line.

  3. Bond fires. Too many bodies might gum up your kill zone - maybe have some bond fires for body disposal.

  4. Formation. Keep the wagons loaded and pointed in the right direction. The bug-out plan is just hop in the cars and go. Anything critical should be loaded in the wagons when not in active use. The nice thing about fishing line fences is they are easy to ditch - just drive straight through them. As long as you have lots of line, you can build new stakes later.

  • $\begingroup$ Floodlights are a recipe for a busy night. You need to detect zombies without zombies detecting you. Sure, they are slow and you will be able to dispose of them easily. But you also won't get any sleep... and try to do that for a month in a row. Being in a group and taking shifts may help, but not attracting any unwanted attention will help much more. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinGrey - US population density is just shy of 100 people / square mile. If you attracted every Z within a 3 mile radius over 12 hours, you'd have 3.7 Zs per minute to deal with. If you camp in a low pop area, assume many people died during the apocalypse, not all zombies within 3 miles would see / hear you, that there's something of a surge right after you stop moving, all those things bring the number down. 5 people on watch, 2 hour watches, with 25 people everyone gets 8 hours. Watches are busy, but that's life after the end of the world. $\endgroup$
    – codeMonkey
    Commented Jun 26 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ One option, assuming the zoms will follow your trail mindlessly, is to set simple traps along your trail. Tripwires, ditches, snares, or just drive through bridges often and close them with debris right after. Given the different paces of the caravan and the zombies, most of the horde will be always behind you, not in front or to the sides, so you can easily stop them by trapping their most likely route. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1 at 7:55

You need some buddies that don't have such a hard time sleeping on a wagon through the day, and who can stay on guard through the night. While it is certainly possible to train humans for that, there is a species much more suitable:


Let's say a dog can smell a zombie on 50 meters. Moving at 2 miles per hour, a zombie will need almost a minute to reach your wagons. With dogs stationed around your camp (not inside), you can easily double that. This changes the question to "how to pack a camp within two minutes"?

The secret of packing up quickly is not unpacking much:

  • Cooking? A grill will do. You can throw it on a carriage in seconds, leaving the fire behind.
  • Sleeping? A-type tents are better than modern igloos. Just cut the ropes and off they go.
  • Repairs? Keep all tools in your toolbox at all times. Close the box. That's it.
  • Defenses? Fell trees. Set tripwires. Whatever is made from cheap materials that you can leave behind.

A lot of care should go into where you camp. Cities are too risky. While you could establish a well-defended camp in a well-preserved building, walls work both ways. They keep zombies outside, but they can also trap you inside. You'd rather camp on open terrain, ideally windward from a big river - that way the zombies won't be able to smell you and your dogs will be able to smell them.

A campsite where you can station your dogs to give you an advance warning, together with a well-rehearsed emergency routine to pack your camp in a minute, should keep you out of combat most of the time.

  • $\begingroup$ you also want a stewpot or pan, when traveling you don't always have stuff large enough ot grill. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 27 at 19:55

Everything thould be anchored to the vehicles. the long camp takes to set up the less distance you travel. consider wire fencing attached to your vehicles and circle the Vehicles. this lets you enclose a decent area without obstructing vision or smell. the fence is only providing minimal protection, a simple physical barrier to give your watch time to notice zombies. this is most important in places with limited visibility like forests. You will have to be flexible diffrent places will require diffrent methods.

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As others have said use dogs, besides the help with spotting and hunting they also have a positive pychological impact.

Don't use tents unless you have to, if you are sleeping, sleep inside or on top of the vehicles, failing that attach the tent to the vehicle so the vehicles make up 1-2 sides of it. Every layer of protection helps and it is that much less stuff you have to transport. If you have to use tents they should be open sided, blocking vision does you no favors.

The exception is if you are traveling in below freezing conditions, then you want one big tent for warmth, but in those cases zombies should be zero risk since they should have frozen solid.

Keep in mind at the pace you are traveling you don't get much choice in where you camp, and vigilance is your best protection. If you are worried about people falling asleep you use shifts, there should always be at least 2 peole awake, likely more. This is not as hard as you think, since setting up camp takes time, you can get away with 2-3 hour shifts for a dozen people without much problem. this also means you need fewer beds than people, people should be hot bunking. people will need to be up anyway for tending fire, cooking meals and other camp tasks. At your pace the people have to forage for food so a lot of time will be spent on that as well, only about half to 2/3 your people will actually be with the caravan at anygiven time.

You should be doing a least part of your traveling in the dark anyway. people should be scouting routes for your vehicles either on horseback, bikes, or on foot. this means your routes should be planned out in advance and focused on the most passable routes but also places of saftey to camp. You might not have a set sleeping time. You might travel for 48 hours nonstop then camp for 2 days, then travel for 8 hours at a time for the next week. on long days people would take shifts sleeping on the vehicles while moving. The important thing is your shedual is set by the enviroment. likely you will travel quickly in some places and stop to stock up in others. in places where you stock up you build better defenses becasue you will be there for a while, thats when other ideas by others here like digging some into play. slow travel of varying terrian requires flexibility, esspeically if you have to forage along the way.


I'm a bit late, but it has often bothered me about zombie narratives that the protagonists don't take more active measures; it seems that people are always reacting to zombies instead of actively reducing the population.

I would like people to set up zombie death pits/electric fences/incinerators which attract them and kill them the way insect zappers do with flies and mosquitos.

So, in this case I would have an advance party, a very nimble fast-moving unit always a few hours ahead of the main party. They would set up some kind of noise/light attractant which would bring all the zombies to a particular place, then kill them in bulk.

I'm not sure what the most efficient way to kill them would be (have them fall off a cliff/into a quarry would be the best of all) but the advance party would set up hours early, attract all the zombies in the area, kill them and then let the main party know it was (relatively) safe to proceed.

  • $\begingroup$ Probably the best long-term solution so far $\endgroup$
    – Oliver
    Commented Jul 4 at 15:27

Some things to consider in the solution:

  • The speed difference only matters for zombies behind you: for those, every 1 hour of uninterrupted travel buys you 1.5 hours of stationary time; similarly every 1 day (24h) of travel allows for 1.5 days stationary

  • If zombies are all over the continent, then you can encounter them if you are not careful

    • scouting your route will help, but some scouts will get surrounded and unable to make it back
    • once surrounded, your speed will only allow a subset of the group to escape, likely a lot of casualties but depends how extensive the swarm
  • If Zombies can only walk at 2km per hour, they can probably not climb anything except stairs.

    • So they can't climb trees, poles, walls, etc.
    • They are unlikely to even be able to pile onto one another since that is much easier said than done, requires good balance and core strength and vision to see where the moving gaps are as the zombies below are squirming and doing non-sense.
  • Once you are surrounded by zombies, you only have a few choices, otherwise you are dead:

    • bury yourself in a way that does not kill you and does not let your scent through (so the zombies will move on, then you can exit and run);
    • jump or fly over the zombies, then out-run them;
    • destroy the zombies;
    • trap the zombies: eg if you are on one side of a pit, they may fall in the pit as they try to get to you.
  • A lot of things can be done while moving: cooking, eating, toilet, sleeping, simple repairs, even re-provisioning in goods/supplies can be done on the go if they can be transported by individuals at least over small distances

  • A few things can only be done while stopped:

    • repair a vehicle that no longer advances
    • repair anything else on a vehicle that requires the engine to be off
    • refueling (since I presume there are no flying vehicles to refuel the driving ones while on the go)
  • I'll assume that 5km/h is an average speed for the convoy: at night they would go slower, during the day faster, on good segments of road they can go faster, on bad ones slower than 5km/h, all in all the average is 5km/h to get from point A to B

  • Remote-controlled unmanned vehicles are a must

  • Need to observe what zombies do when they have no human to catch, do they walk around randomly, do they stop, do they walk towards the last place they saw the human

  • A moat takes too long to build but there may be natural ones

  • It should be possible to trap them eg build a hole, put a high-temp heat source that will incinerate zombie that falls in it, then build a ramp towards the hole and lure the zombies towards you on the other side of the hole; as they fall into the hole they get incinerated; important to not get surrounded; this type of device could even be attached to a vehicle, then with a crane pick the zombies and drop them in that incinerator

If you combine all of the above:

  • you should aim to do as much as possible without stopping
  • some things will require stopping for a bit, that is inevitable
  • a barrier around the convoy will not help much: once surrounded, you will have to ram through the zombies and that may be too much for the vehicles and some will get stuck or hit an obstacle in the mayhem
  • you should aim to have some UAV's to scout ahead and all around; the bigger the distance to scout all directions, the more UAV's you need, so some people will have to be dedicated to the task of controlling them, repairing them, provisioning fuel for them (eg recharge the batteries)
  • some UAV's should also be dedicated to destroying the zombies, nothing is indestructible so there should be a weakness that can be exploited eg they can be burnt, or ultrasound can be emitted so they lose sense of orientation etc
  • even with UAV's, you may be discovered because the UAV's do not give the operator perfect vision, people get tired, bored, etc, you will have to destroy as many as possible eg using catapults with rocks or even something that catapults 1 or more zombies as they are moving towards some bait; catapulting will destroy 90% of them and the others will require some time to return
  • lure them use heavy amo to destroy before you can resume moving, or you may encounter zombies ahead of the convoy, so you should have a way of in which case you will have to leave some resources and possibly some people will not make it
  • have an incinerator that travels with the convoy and a crane that can pick zombies up and put them in there
  • have a chainsaw that can be controlled from one of the vehicles to cut everything in its path as it pans left and right, this way the convoy can keep moving
  • make the vehicles high enough on wheels that the zombies cannot climb onto the vehicles
  • use stilts to navigate through a horde of zombies; only a few people would be able to do this, as this would take practice, and the stilts would have to be telescopic otherwise tripping too easy, so this is not likely with current technology, so it depends whether there is enough time for anyone to develop something like this

Zombies hunt all the things, deer, other humans you name it . And deer is clever, they know, that once the have a hunter, that hunter will be busy once the deer moves close enough to a camp. Feed the other guy to the lion, zombie-edition. Happens all the time in wilderness.

Basically, your opponents opponent in the foodchain, is your danger-scratchpost. Have humans hunting you, go by a pack of lions. Cheetah after you, elephants.

So you want to be aware of exhausted wildlife that moves close to camp. That doe wants you to fight a wild horde cold on its tail. So you want to have a dead guy on guard. Somebody who smells, doesn't move and trigger zombie reflexes otherwise, but also keeps bears, lions and tigers away unless those become zombified too.

Then you are dealing with a rabbies economy. For the animals it is wise, to reproduce in small numbers, life in small distrustful groups and be wary of too easy prey. Same applies for a zombified eco-system. Animals still exist and some may even adapt (zombified-rats living and thriving in the larger carcasses), but overall even the predators will keep away from your dead guy.

So your safety measurement is a dead guy on a stick.


Staying on the road has been suggested. I wanna expand on the main idea.


you break down the entire train to 2 groups that switch places. 12 hours or something similar.

This means you always have fresh people on rotation. No time in which everyone is sleepy, no time that you are missing a gunner...etc.

This can also save specialized spaces. For example hot racking can have 10 beds serving 20 people. Because they sleep at different times.

On the road maintenance. This is the tricky part. But engineering is not a mystery or magic, it's a science.

If your train has a sort of large scaffolding repair platform that can go over the vehicle and allow working on it as it is moving, this enables you to fix most stuff on the road. Just strap your people good and you are fine. This can also be easily stored and deployed on any vehicle in the train.


For more serious stuff that requires changing stuff like wheels, though why not tracks and ditch the wheels. You can have one giant very powerful truck that can house the wagon inside, or part of it, then fix it.

Even if it slows down a bit, it's fine. You can tell your train to maintain a speed of 4 or 3.5 miles per hour. This way once it is done, the two wagons can gallop on full speed and catch up.


Scouts. Or call them whatever you want.

The idea is that it's a more mobile group using stuff like dirt bikes and motorcycle that accompany your wagon train.


Well. No matter how big. Your people will need to resupply.

So. Those faster moving guys speed up past your main train and go gather stuff.

From food to water to firewood to other stuff. Then they come back and drop the stuff. They can also help you scout the area ahead. You don't want your people just going in blind.

This helps eliminate the other issues that naturally come from trying to stay on the move. As you sometimes need someone on the ground doing stuff. They also don't have to be advanced or fast. Heck. You could use literal horses for that.

And you would be surprised how much a person on a horse or motorcycle can carry.

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    $\begingroup$ If you have tracks you have evn more parts that can fail, 1 track will have many wheels. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jun 30 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @John, It's about finding the right compromise in the situation. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Commented Jun 30 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ @John It might actually be better. It would have more redundancy, each axle would have less load and be less likely to fail, and it's not that much more complicated. $\endgroup$
    – Bubbles
    Commented Jul 1 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Bubbles a tracked vehicle is a lot more complicated, just keeping the track under tension requires a lot of engineering. They also require a lot more maintance, tracks also suffer a lot more wear and tear than simple wheels. thats not a problem in the modern world, but a big problem in the setting. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jul 2 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ I was just talking to a retired tanker a few weeks back about how fickle the tracks are on an M1 Abrams. He said that the tracks took constant maintenance, and if you did not have at least 2 years of training and experience, you were not allowed to touch them. It's one of big reasons most militaries are moving toward wheeled tanks now. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jul 2 at 13:50

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