How To Move As Silently As A Cat

how to move silently

It’s the quintessential moment in any horror flick – the part where the heroine is trying to sneak silently away from the bad guy by moving stealthily through the old, rickety house (aren’t they always set in an old, rickety house?), but try as she might to move quietly, her position is given away by a loud creak from the old wooden staircase.  We all wonder, why doesn’t she know how to move silently?

Makes for great suspense, but in the real world, learning how to walk silently is a valuable skill that should be in every prepper’s survival arsenal. Moving in silence is not only a valuable skill, but also easy to learn and practice. Think about your safety in a SHTF situation – how beneficial would it be to be able to move or run in silence?

how to move silently
Knowing how to walk quietly on a creaky floor or staircase gives you the advantage of stealth.

There are many instances you may run into where such a skill could save your life, including sneaking past checkpoints or aggressive / hostile people, scavenging while other (potentially hostile) people are around, leaving an area when unfriendly people arrive, or successfully stalking prey while hunting.

how to move silently
The slightest sound can alert your prey and ruin an opportunity to secure a meal.

Learning to use stealth techniques is an invaluable survival skill that you and any member of your family can learn – plus it’s easy to practice! In this article, we will teach you 5 essential tricks for moving in silence – as well as 1 bonus trick! – that will allow you to move undetected and help keep you safe.

5 Tricks for Moving in Silence

1. Maintain Your Center of Balance

If you are carrying anything, especially a backpack, stash it if you can as it throws off your center of balance. Look for somewhere safe you can leave it where it will be recoverable later. While a well-fitted backpack will be cinched tight to your body and have good weight distribution, it’s a surety that the added 30-50 lbs you are carrying around will change your center of balance.

The reason this is important is that it is far easier to sneak around quietly with your natural movements and center of gravity as opposed to your body trying to compensate for the unexpected extra weight.

how to move silently
Moving in silence is more difficult with the added bulk of a backpack because it throws off your natural balance. Image credit Joseph on flickr.

2. Get Rid of Noise Makers

When trying to move silently, if you have anything on you that jingles or jangles – get rid of it. If you are carrying items such as keys, change, jewelry, gear, buckles, or straps hanging off your body or bag that have the potential to make noise, make sure to eliminate them from your person.

how to move silently
Bring only what is necessary for the mission and be sure to secure any gear so that it will not make a sound when you move.

Zippers are another item that can give you away when trying to move quietly, but ranger bands can help with this – you can learn how to make ranger bands here or purchase them here. The video below shows how ranger bands can be used to silence zippers:

Also be aware of the clothing you are wearing. Some clothing may have the potential to swish or get caught on things, especially loose cargo pockets, which can easily get caught on a corner or exposed nail.

how to move silently
Silent clothes are slim-fitting with minimal protrusions. This large hooded jacket may keep you warm but it would make it difficult to walk quietly.

3. Don’t Move Blindly

how to move silently

When moving in silence, always scope out your path ahead of time, don’t stumble along blindly. Before moving, make sure to take a few seconds to survey the area around you and scope out the best path to take.

You’ll likely need to employ some improvisation at some point, but having a general plan of where you are going, including things to avoid and knowing where safe / quiet areas are, can mean the difference between detection and moving stealthily to safety.

If you have a long way to go, plan your trek by stopping in safe or concealed areas and then scoping out the next leg of your trip from there.

4. Look Out for Landmines

By landmines, we mean surprise objects that can give away your presence if stepped on. Items to be on the lookout for include broken glass, dry leaves, twigs, and animals.

how to move silently
Learn how to walk silently by avoiding noisy objects, such as pine cones and twigs.

When scoping out your path, try and find the way that has the least amount of debris that could potentially make noise and give you away. As you’ve no doubt seen in the movies, something as simple as the snap of a twig can immediately alert others to your presence.

Additionally, look out for animals and avoid them at all costs. The bark of a startled dog or the rustle of a bird hastily flying away are key indicators to others of your location.

how to move silently
Startling a flock of birds into flight is a dead giveaway of your presence.

5. Proceed with Caution

Even weight distribution and foot placement are key to moving stealthily and keeping your footfalls as quiet as possible. Always move carefully and with intent.

If you are unsure about your next step, test the location lightly with your toes and gradually place the rest of your foot down once you’ve determined it’s safe. Also be mindful not to knock anything over if you need to lean against something at some point. The video below gives a detailed demonstration of stepping with your toes first to walk quietly across any surface:

Bonus Trick For How To Move Silently

While the preceding 5 tricks will help you to move quietly and undetected, there is always the chance that something will go wrong, which brings us to our bonus trick – always have an escape plan.

If you are detected and need to run, it’s imperative you know which way to head in order to flee safely. Sometimes it can be as simple as going back the way you came, but in case that path is blocked or otherwise inaccessible it’s always prudent to have at least one additional escape route.

If escape is not a viable option, you may want to have some means of defending yourself against whomever detected you. This could include non-lethal options such as a flashlight or pepper spray, or entail more serious options such as a survival weapon or firearm.  

survival weapons

General Stealth Techniques

Along with the tricks above, keep the following in mind when attempting to walk or move undetected:

  • Use a red flashlight to move at night as this will preserve your night vision and attract less attention EC11 and EA21 from Nitecore both come with a secondary red LED in addition to their main light for just this purpose.
  • If avoidable, do not sneak around barefoot – yes, it is quieter to move barefoot than with shoes, but you will be in serious trouble if you get caught as it is much harder to run barefoot and you run a higher risk of injuring your feet
  • Be aware that floorboards will make more noise in the summer than in cold weather.
how to move silently
While you may be able to walk lightly over these rocks barefoot, running could cause serious injury to your feet.

Practicing How To Move Silently at Home

If you want to learn to move as silently as a cat, reading this article is a great start, but you’ll need to practice what you’ve learned. The great thing about stealth movement is that it’s a survival skill that’s easy to practice in your everyday life. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can incorporate stealth movement into your daily life and learn to move undetected:

  • When you’re just beginning, feel free to practice in socks or barefeet, but after you start to get the hang of walking silently, start practicing in the shoes or boots that you plan on wearing when bugging out
  • Take advantage of everyday situations to practice, such as movie night – when getting up to grab some popcorn, see if you can sneak back without anyone noticing;
  • Practice walking quietly past your pets – see if you can pass by Fido without attracting his attention
  • Turn practice into game time with your kids – start a game where one person sits centrally in a room (blindfolded, if need be) and challenge everyone else to get from one side of the room to the other without being heard (this also has the added benefit of teaching all members of your family how to move silently)
  • When moving around at night, see if you can move silently enough so as not to wake up your baby / husband / wife
  • While at work, try walking into your co-workers’ cubicles / offices / workspaces without them noticing your presence, at least until you say “Hello,” – no need to creep anyone out!

Conclusion

The ability to move about undetected is a highly valuable skill to have in survival situations and can be learned and mastered by anyone. Moving stealthily has myriad life-saving applications as well as practical uses for everyday life. Running or walking silently is a skill that can be practiced almost anywhere, which makes it one of the easiest survival skills to master. In order to learn how to move silently, keep in mind these 5 key tricks:

  1. Maintain your center of balance
  2. Get rid of potential noise makers
  3. Don’t move blindly, choose your path intentionally
  4. Look out for landmines
  5. Proceed with caution and have an escape plan!

 

how to move silently

What are you waiting for? Start practicing now and pretty soon you’ll be able to move around your friends and family as stealthily and silently as a cat!

Your Thoughts

Can you think of other situations where it is important to know how to move silently? Have you practiced stealth techniques on your own or with your family? Tell us about your experience in the Comments section below, thanks!

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