Vagrant Life: RUST Without a Base

Learn everything you need to live a vagrant life in RUST successfully

Psychologically, playing video games is little more than strenuous exercise for your brain, conveniently gift-wrapped into something more tangible and fun, like a mother finding sneaky ways to get her children to eat more vegetables. Humans tend to get bored even with activities that they find exciting after enough time passes. 

Whether it be the wearing off of that new car smell or not getting the same goosebumps you once did when watching that end-game cinematic, all beauty fades, and sometimes you need a little more spice in your gaming experience to return some of the flavors you’re missing.

RUST is no stranger to weird flavor. From its community events, such as Twitch Drops, unique game modes like the newly minted Hardcore mode, or odd server configurations intended to breathe new life into an end wipe run. Organizations and server owners alike go out of their way to keep things feeling as fresh as possible.

The idea behind this guide, in concept, is as old as RUST itself. From personal experience, I have had the conversation probably a hundred times; what if we just didn’t build a base and were constantly on the move? Let’s put the hobo back in the hobo barrel, shall we? Let us talk about the vagrant life in RUST.

Living the Vagrant Life in RUST

The challenge (optional)

It starts as a primary, universal premise; live a wipe cycle without a base. The idea alone doesn’t sound all that off-putting and even sounds appealing on the surface to some. Maybe this could be the wipe we tried out the camper model system. Perhaps we develop a previously thought-about method of storing loot without boxes or foundations. Let’s go further, stay prim, and have nothing to lose! The possibilities are endless.

As implied, the player’s imagination is the only limitation to this ‘challenge.’ Before we dive into tips and tricks to getting started, we’ve compiled a general all-purpose list that the average player or seasoned streamer might find helpful for planning their next hobo adventure!

  • Consider a restricted entity crafting list. Depending on how serious you want to take the challenge, think about entities that make the game too easy and decide not to make them. Instead, consider using public entities, such as repair benches, research tables, or the Large Furnaces outside other players’ bases to get by.
  • Define what constitutes a base. Once again, depending on personal preference, define what makes a base. Are campers off-limits? What about a single TC on a triangle foundation, walled in and surrounded by trees or a rock formation; ideal location for stash storage to prevent decay. What about raided bases to squat in during a night cycle? Are you allowed to build to gain access to or grub a compound? Lay out these types of rules ahead of time.
  • To blueprint or not to blueprint. While a bit extreme, maybe another dimension of difficulty is exactly what you desire. Entertain the idea only using what you find and possibly limit blueprints to things like meds or ammunition.
  • Who needs cargo? Up the ante by restricting certain monuments known to progress a wipe very quickly. Cargo, Oil Rigs, or any other monument with elite crates might be worth self-prohibiting.  
  • Whatever you like. If you’re a content creator and end up using this challenge, drop us a line in our Discord and let us know what interesting and exciting spin you put on it. We’d love to see what the community can come up with. 

Getting started with the vagrant life

Assuming that you took the ‘easy’ route and simply restricted yourself from building a base with traps, doors, windows, or a TC, we take a look at your first in-game consideration; your way of thinking about RUST from top to bottom.

We don’t need to consider a base location but instead should look at static resources; small oil refineries, maybe a BBQ, or possibly a research table. 

Vagrant's In RUST Re-define What Home Is

Maybe you feel aquatic and want to spend your vagrant existence hitting the open seas. Whatever your playstyle, you will probably do best not to deviate from what you’re most familiar with. Mobility will be your greatest asset and should be thought of as such. 

Unlike other players, you don’t have a base to be tracked back to. As such, you might even bait a friendly raid or two on some unsuspecting players by pretending to run toward certain bases. The world is your oyster.

While not needing the resource-gathering potential you otherwise would, gathering the resources to craft early-game weaponry will be necessary. The same threats still exist, so you must be prepared to defend yourself. Such status effects as radiation, cold, and hunger will also be constantly hounding you, so we must prepare for that.

Finally, you must decide if you will focus on an isolated area as you would with a standard base building wipe or go full wayfarer, having the next mile of every road to call home.

Roaming versus camping in RUST

Vagrant's Must Learn to Master the Roam


You’ve chosen the more familiar path; the trusty local gas station, Satellite Dish, and Outpost within walking distance – you may be homeless, but you have a ‘home.’ What should you do next? That depends on your goals and the rules you’ve devised for yourself.  

If blueprints are still an option, temporarily living out of Outpost or Bandit Camp are options too good to pass up in the beginning. Boasting a plethora of just about everything a player needs early-game, including access to tier 1 workbenches. These monuments, equipped with shops and drone vendors, could considerably level the playing field for those ‘roughing it.’ 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more isolated lifestyle, there is nothing wrong with utilizing the underground tunnel network to acquire resources. While a bit more complicated than the usual barrel-bashing route, there are riches galore if you are skillful enough to thrash the Tunnel Dwellers’ redefined living next to a burning barrel.  


You can’t seem to put down roots, so why should you? Take that Nomad Hazmat and live up to its moniker. Hit the open road (or open seas) and forge your own adventure. Most might find this playstyle quite liberating. 

Not being overly attached to a particular area keeps things fresh and allows for a deeper understanding of the landscape. You can still enjoy the same amenities as the camping player, but your trips to Outpost are few and far between – make the most of them.

If you haven’t deemed it off limits, utilizing the Junkyard and its public vehicle lift might make Camper Living a viable strategy. While some might argue that living in a camper means you technically have a ‘base,’ don’t be afraid to take certain liberties as they make sense to you. 

If the camper life is pushing the boundaries of non-vagabond life too much, consider using a horse with Saddle Bags to cart around more loot at once.

Living prim

Become Custom to a Prim Life as a Vagrant

This concept should probably come as a shocker to no one – you are presumably going to be naked or primitively geared for longer than usual by playing RUST in this manner. I invite you to view this as one of your greatest strengths. Allow me to elaborate.

One of the most significant obstacles the average lower-hour RUST player faces is the fear of losing what they have. Gear anxiety is a real thing, and it impacts players of all hour ranges. If I take out my best gun, my best kit, or even go outside and add on to my base while the population is high, I might be killed and lose it all.  

Consider this challenge an answer to your condition should you suffer from this type of anxiety. You don’t have a base to hide in or a mountain of road sign kits to stash away ‘just incase.’ Use what you have to acquire more. 

If you lose your bow and burlap gear, you’re a few trees and barrels away from being right back where you were. But what happens if you don’t die, and you do happen to outplay someone with a SAR kit, with just your DB and compound bow?

Storage solutions

Understand the Limitations of Your Storage Capabilities

You knew it was coming – you made the play, now where do you go? If you’re using the camper strategy, you have a little leeway that anyone else doing this challenge won’t. But for everyone else, we must get creative in storing things.  

The obvious answer is the Small Stash. This small 6-slot receptacle is a seemingly lovely, cost-efficient method of storing loot in the short term. Sure, if not within range of a TC, it will decay on its own within 48 hours of placement, similar to a Sleeping Bag (which you should be placing every chance you get). Should you permit yourself the privilege of constructing that walled-off single-triangle foundation TC in the middle of a heavily wooded or rocky area, you now have a much better way of storing loot.  

As stated, sleeping bags, small stashes, or any other deployable-on-ground entity will not decay under the ‘privilege’ range of a Tool Cupboard. No one bats an eye at a TC in the middle of nowhere on larger, higher-population servers. They assume it to be a remnant of a long-decayed compound and will view it as a place to PVP from at most. 

For that reason, I highly advise that you don’t stash your goods directly at the base of the foundations. Instead, use the TC placement as a marker to indicate later where you’ve stashed loot. Five paces due west in a rock or just north in some bushes are excellent landmarks for using stashes efficiently.

Small Stashes Disclaimer

Stashes in RUST Carry Inherent Risk

Small Stashes are practically an administrative tool for detecting cheaters. Those players using ESP hacks will often walk from stash to stash, looting as they go. There is no natural way to prevent this from potentially happening; unfortunately, it directly undermines this challenge tremendously. If you decide to risk it anyway, we recommend trying the challenge on a lower-population server.

Other options to consider for storage are remote caves, particularly those with spiked entrances; less experienced players often avoid these. Loot may also be stored in saddle bags overnight so long as you park your horse in a bush with a full Hitch & Trough setup.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to gamble, using small stashes is your best bet. Be mindful of the decay timer, and use a nearby sleeping bag placed at the same time to keep track of when your stash might disappear. It also makes an excellent marker for recovering your loot later. Consider using different bag skins that are more visually tailored to the environment in which they are placed, allowing the biome (arctic, desert, temperate) to dictate the skin.

Methods of upgrading in the vagrant life

Utilize Your Upgrade Paths as They Present Themselves

Depending on the restrictions you set for yourself at the beginning of this debacle, you may or may not be permitted to progress beyond the primitive stage. Should that be the case, upgrading your armor and weapons methods is similar to traditional gameplay. While you may not necessarily have access to the same degree of workbenches that you would, there are ways to get high-end gear through low-end means. 


If we’re being honest, this entire playstyle defines grubbing. Running around with naught but the clothes on your back and a double-barrel shotgun in your hands. This is the pinnacle of freedom in RUST. Some might go so far as to call grubbing a form of art.

Setting up near a mid-tier monument in a secluded area, with stashes and sleeping bags at the ready, is an excellent way of overwhelming even those that grossly out-gear you. It isn’t outside of the scope of probability that a quick-trigger grub couldn’t get away with a Hazmat/Thompson kit or greater with minimal effort. Keep premade kits composed of quickly craftable EokasWaterpipe Shotguns, or double-barrel shotguns stashed nearby, with at least 11 radiation protection’s worth of clothing to help accomplish this.

The tech tree

While often overlooked in favor of more conventional gear, the tier 1 workbench offers a wide assortment of weapons, armor, and tools you can use to great effect. Most importantly, you can access a few of these workbenches publicly!

With hallmarks of the grubbing lifestyle already touched on, this tree also possesses the ever-powerful Ladder blueprint, along with the revolver and pistol bullet. Couple these things with the reasonably inexpensive clothing branch and you’ll be set for most low-mid-tier action at a price you can afford. Let’s also not forget about the Satchel Charge (more on that later).

The Bandit Camp monument

The RUST Bandit Camp Monument

If all these other strategies seem too much to handle, blow off a little steam at the gaming table. Whether through the new poker system, the gambling wheel, or the slot machines, even the most downtrodden vagabond can find success sitting in the safety of this monument.  

If all else fails, gathering assorted produce at rivers can yield moderate returns to keep the good times going via the bandit camp’s vendors, which can be found inside.

Go fishin’

Maybe you’re more the rest and relaxation sort, and you want to get away from it all. Nothing says hobo living like a sandy getaway on a deserted beachfront near a Fishing Village. Either eat your catch directly for calories or consider turning in some of your bigger fish for scrap instantly at the conveniently located on-site vending machines. Want to take any of these hobbies a step further?

The RUST Mission System

While vast in scope and various in nature, the RUST Mission System is a great way to acquire mid-high tier tools, weapons, or scrap, not to mention break up the monotony of hitting barrels. The best part is that the vagrant lifestyle meshes very well with mission availability – traveling around affords more mission-related opportunities.


Airdrops Are a Blessing to Vagrants

If you have found yourself at the edge of the world, with very few souls in sight, there is a good chance you might stumble across one or two of these. Airdrops are an excellent source of weapons and tools. While you may not be prepared to contest one, chasing after that Parachute naked never hurts. Bring a couple of stashes for quick loot, stash, and scoot gains.


The soul of RUST… if you use the methods above, you are set to start entering the world of PVP. While you may not have the guns, gear, or resources as a ‘base-haver,’ that doesn’t mean that you can’t use this challenge to your advantage.  

While others see their base as a haven from which to roof camp, restock, or PVP, your home is the road, the rock, and the trees. Take full advantage of the terrain. 

If bear traps or landmines make their way into your arsenal, build strategies around the placement and get some stashes down nearby. Let the mechanism do the work for you. 

Please pay attention to player pathing, and spend some time watching your fellow survivors as they run through your domain. Place traps in commonly traversed bushes and tall grass. Wait for the boom and reap the profit. Just don’t blow yourself up.

It’s raiding time

It's raiding time!

You’ve made it to this point. Your tree-embedded small furnaces have been humming along with sulfur all day. You’ve learned the bean can and satchel and found your mark—the perfect 2×2, complete with a wooden door and no visible airlock. The entire wipe has been leading to this moment.  

Pause – raids create noise, the noise attracts players, and players have guns. Did we think this through? At the end of the day, every person is the architect of their fortune. If it is the belief that raiding is a viable option for increasing your wealth, then that is the right decision. Don’t second guess, but prepare.

If you are using a camper, you’re halfway there. With built-in beds, storage, and a quick getaway method, this is, by far, the most overpowered option at your disposal. 

If not, here are some quick-tip ideas to increase the chance of a raid’s success.

  1. Have redundant stashes, sleeping bags, and at least 1 kit on all 4 corners of the raid target. The extra stashes are to get loot away from the raid as quickly as possible but be very aware of your surroundings. They’re no use if someone watches them being buried.
  2. Pay attention to the time of day. Raiding at night might be more beneficial to you, especially if you’ve invested in Night Vision Goggles. Statistically, the night cycle in RUST is the most common AFK time. Use this to your advantage. If raiding in the snow or desert, be prepared with cold protection and (hopefully) waterproofing options.  
  3. Scout the area ahead of time. If your raid target is online, or if their neighbors are, you definitely need to know that. Understanding the threats, both present and non, is crucial to success.
  4. Plan for the worst. That is to say, if you are raiding that 2×2, never assume that the doors after the first wooden one are also made of wood. The worst thing you can do is underestimate your opponent or overestimate yourself. Keep your expectations realistic, and don’t second-guess your decisions.  
  5. Bring help! Perhaps you’ve made friends as you’ve trekked through the RUST gutter. Maybe others have taken an interest in living a similar wipe and have similar goals. Come up with an equitable agreement ahead of time and get them involved. Share the wealth and be rewarded with a bit of extra security.
  6. Eco-raid at every opportunity. There is nothing quite as satisfying or profitable as exploiting base design weakness. And since most eco-raiding takes the form of farming 23 spears and putting in 12 minutes of your life, you have very little to lose if it all goes sideways. This tip segways perfectly into our last tip.
  7. Learn the Fire Arrow blueprint. Now. This tip might come as a shock, even to some veteran players. Living the nomadic lifestyle means you will cover more country than you otherwise would, searching for resources and riches to further your progress. 

In my experience, especially on higher-population servers, you will encounter A LOT of locked TCs on decaying foundations. Most of these are from a lack of resources and contain treasures beyond your imagination. It helps always to be prepared to crack open these vaults and reap the rewards silently.

Should you fire arrows in a red toolbox, which is quite common, spend the 20 scraps to learn it at a research table. You’ll be glad you did.

Remember, young vagrant, to have fun.

Remember to Have Fun!

Remember that RUST is just a game (please don’t hit me). Things will go sideways, you’re going to end up back at square one before you get more comfortable, and people might not understand your choice to put yourself through something like this.  

If nothing else, living a vagrant life in the wild without doors for a while might give you more appreciation for the norm. And hey, at the end of this adventure, at least you weren’t offline raided!

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About No Limit Llama

An aspiring woodworker and web designer. Father, husband, and Rust veteran. Llama has written op-eds and official game documents for over two decades. The earliest writings were on Asheron’s Call, followed by World of Warcraft and eventually Rust. The vast majority of his indoor time is spent running Rust servers or helping friends with their Rust-related projects. He enjoys working around the house, continuing his education when time permits, and creating new processes to simplify activities of daily living for his friends and family. He has an incredible wife, a dog, three children, and one granddaughter.

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