When to Bug Out and What to Bring

Bugging out is always a hot topic in the survival community. Everyone has a different image of what to do, what it’d be like, and what would warrant the idea in the first place. In this article we will examine some reasons when to bug out and when to stay put.

Firstly, you must actually be prepared to bug out. Everyone and their mom these days have some minor form of bugout equipment or plan. Often times misallocated resources are a staple in this. Some folks think they can slap their plate carrier on, grab their rifle, and go. Others think that food and water are the only issues of import, and neglect to bring proper clothing and shelter equipment. It’s all about finding a proper balance of all these things. Protection, shelter, and sustenance are the three most important things to bring with you when bugging out. Cutting down on weight is also of critical import. In some bug out situations a vehicle will not be a plausible option and humping it may take precedence. In that case, you will most certainly want to be able to carry what you’re going to be bringing with you safely and comfortably. Never bug out if the situation is going to simply increase the risk you’re going through.

This brings me on to the next point- bugging out can be some serious stuff. You shouldn’t flee your home unless environmental factors absolutely dictate that you must. Also, have realistic expectations for your bug out situation. If there’s a hurricane inbound and you live in a coastal area you should probably evacuate before the local networks start calling for it. That evacuation can be as simple as booking a hotel further inland, staying with friends or family, or taking an extended camping trip in a legal area. It doesn’t always have to be so doom and gloom like the idea of ruck marching hundreds of miles to reach some liberating safe location like in the movies.

Third, you need to figure out what situations truly call for bugging out. Recently the East Coast was hit by a historic snow storm and battered us hard and put the whole area out of business for a few days. If you were to bug out in this situation local authorities would probably be thawing you out right now, because you’d have become a popsicle and done absolutely nothing to preserve your safety. Use common sense. It takes a pretty apocalyptic scenario to truly warrant fleeing from your home. 99 percent of the time it’s more tactically sound to stay put and defend in place. After all, you don’t want to return from your bugging out adventure to find that you have no home! Say rioting and looting is happening in your area- a vigilant defender with a fully loaded AR-15 is a pretty effective deterrent to hoodlums.

Now, should you find yourself in the situation that you need to bug out, like a massive tsunami is inbound, a foreign or domestic power is carpet bombing your city, or aliens are invading, here are some pieces of equipment that may be essential in your survival.

1- A BOV or bug out vehicle. Something that can bear the load of the equipment you’ll need to sustain and survive for a extended period of time is endlessly more useful than your two legs. You’ll find yourself exposed to the elements and fatigued quickly if you’re trying to hump it all the way to your bugout location. Also taking in your immediate family or friends who may be accompanying you is important. Most people aren’t in a living situation where they can look after solely themselves. You may be able to hump a hundred miles with a seventy five pound ruck, but can your wife or mother? Make sure your bug out vehicle is clandestine, meaning it can fit in with the normal population. A pimped out truck complete with camouflage paint job is screaming for an ambush by Mosin marauders. A 4×4 Ranger or Tacoma will get you just as far and may save you from some AP rounds through the windshield. Also consider taking a smaller backup vehicle such as a dirt or enduro bike in case the trail gets too constricted for a full sized vehicle. These can easily be strapped up in the bed of your truck along with all the essentials you need to survive for a few weeks.

2- Food and water. This is an obvious choice for obvious reasons. It’s not realistic to think you’re going to be able to hunt and gather your food for a sustainable period of time while on the move. Meals Ready to Eat and other pre-packaged, lightweight food supplements will serve you well. Make sure these are gutted from their original package and re-packed in a format that saves space and weight. Throw away any extra shit you don’t need like the heaters and beverage bags. You can eat all of these meals cold, saving time and space. As far as water goes you should certainly have a few gallons per person minimum, but also invest in water filtration equipment like a Lifestraw or an equivalent brand. If you find yourself in a situation where your access to your bug out location is delayed you may expend your water rations before you arrive. Being able to drink directly from creeks, streams, rivers and lakes without having to boil or treat water is a huge tactical asset. I keep a Lifestraw in every bug out bag.

3- Weapons and ammo. This wouldn’t be a tactical survival website if we didn’t advocate for the judicious application of firepower in life threatening scenarios. While people by and large will band together to help one another in crisis there are always those nutbags who want to capitalize on bad situations and prey on others. Oftentimes the presence of good weaponry will prevent things from escalating in the first place, but if it comes down to it a big scary “assault weapon” will definitely get the job done in preventing shit birds from hurting you or your loved ones. Pack ample ammunition to get to your bug out location and defend it. However, don’t go overboard. Don’t sacrifice other essentials in order to pack away more ammo. Thousands upon thousands of rounds aren’t needed, and if they are you’re likely going to die before you use them all up. Keep a few hundred rounds, preferably attached to a plate carrier or chest rig with a few spare magazines thrown in your go bag. Supplement a battle belt when driving for increased comfort and lower profile, and you’re good to go. Remember this is about survival, not winning the war.

4- Communication and signal equipment. Having a few two way radios is important in case you and your group get detached from one another. Also of import is a small hand crank radio system in order to keep updated on new details regarding whatever disaster caused you to bug out. Flares, lights, mirrors, smoke grenades, and fire starting devices can also help if it’s necessary to signal any possible rescue elements. VS-17 panels and chem lights are also effective. Not only can you signal rescuers with many of these pieces of equipment, but you can also formulate special coded messages to your “reaction force”, the people responding and reacting to the bug out situation with you.

5- Shelter and warm weather materials. Having a bug out vehicle can help mitigate much of the work it’d take to create survival shelters, as it can operate as your form of transportation and shelter as well. However, even a nice cozy vehicle won’t protect you from sub zero temperatures. Mylar blankets, sleeping bags, poncho liners, and bivvy sacks can all be of major import. If not for pure survival, for comfort as well. Staying comfortable in survival is key to keeping your mind on track, you have to be able to formulate plans and react to situations. If you’re freezing cold, malnourished, tired, wet, et cetera, you won’t be able to function at full capacity. You’ll be relying on your lizard brain, and lizards aren’t the smartest animals on the planet. Also if you do not have a bug out vehicle you should have the basic knowledge on how to build and maintain small concealable shelters for yourself. Keeping an entrenching tool, spade, hand axe, machete, and large knife will help a lot when it comes down to construction.

6- Fire starting materials. There’s a sweet brand named Solkoa who makes these little fire starters called “Fastfire.” They are amazing little pieces of gear. Small, lightweight, super easy to use, and effective in all conditions. Pop a few of these or whatever fire starting materials you can make yourself into a water proof bag and make sure they’re packed away in your bug out gear. An efficient flint and steel, lighter, waterproof matches combination is great to keep on deck as well. Make sure you have a backup for your backup.

All in all it is generally inadvisable to bug out in most situations unless there is substantial evidence of an immediate threat to your life. Your own home offers the amenities that the wilderness simply doesn’t have. A roof over your head, a defensible position, insulated walls, and climate controlled storage space. Even with the power grid going down that insulation and those four walls will be more protected than anything nature can offer. Zombies, bombs falling on your neighborhood, tsunamis, large wild fires, Gestapo style martial law, these are the kinds of things that call for a bug out. Anything less is just subjecting you to a higher risk quotient and that’s no good for anybody. Stay updated on the factors and conditions of your location, stay vigilant, and stay under the radar. This combination of mindsets will exponentially increase your likelihood of making it out of some serious stupidness.

“Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum”– Tommy