Image courtesy of Mountain Goat Diaries
What nasty turn of events would warrant you grabbing your Bug Out Bag and heading for the hills… on foot if necessary? Or better yet, your well stocked retreat?
Be careful how you answer this loaded question.
There’s a long list of bug out worthy disaster scenarios according to some survival experts. Some of are real experts, some well-intentioned, others are attention whores. Read the fine print and think logically.
Most on-the-run survival advice is romance rolled into a 70 lb. “tactical” sack on your back.
I’m convinced that many preppers embrace the huge BOB thesis because of its romantic appeal. What experts in the preparedness community say doesn’t always harmonize with actual experience.
Here’s 4 reasons why…
1.) Too Much Stuff
The vast majority of hopeful bug-outers are nowhere near physically capable of carrying 3 days worth of water (8.34 lb./gal. x 3 = 25.02 lb.) for a 72 hour excursion – plus other gear. But you’ve got the water issue covered with a handy water filter and a metal container and collapsible bladders, right? Just lightened you pack considerable.
What about the other stuff? You’ve got to have ammo, guns, food, gear, clothing, first aid, shelter, and 12 unique ways to build a fire. Then there are those heavy ‘comfort’ items.
You’ll need an ATV just to get the 75 pound bag out of the yard.
Since DRG and I have BOB’s at the ready, does this make me a hypocrite for writing this?
BOB’s have their place in our overall plan. The same goes for my Get Home Bag – a totally different creature. Both are akin to having AFLAC as supplemental insurance.
You may have seen pictures of me and Dirt Road Girl training with our backpacks. They make great workout equipment. Physical training and testing and Doing the Stuff to gauge what weight we could realistically carry if we were ever forced to use feet instead of wheels.
But mostly (I mean the 99% kind of mostly), our intended purpose was to add resistance in our functional fitness program – not train to hump 100 miles to our retreat. Actually, 96 miles on nicely paved roads.
2.) Untested Stuff
Our bags are packed with gear and supplies we have tested. Weighted so we can carry them. Being un-tacti-cool, they look like something you’d see on an AT section hiker’s back. BOB’s are truly a last resort item in our prep plan.
By the way, we don’t have doggie bug out bags for ‘Moose’ and ‘Abby’, our two spoiled rescue mutts. I know. I’ll hear from some of you about our lack ofpet prep. But our dogs fit so nicely in the back of our bug out vehicles (BOV). Nothing special about our BOV’s. They’re just daily drivers.
3.) Child Stuff
On top of that, we don’t have small children tagging along behind us as we machete a path through briars and brambles. Small children alone are reason enough to abandon the thought of trekking through the woods to safety. It would not be safe. Or smart.
Here’s the thing.
We don’t plan on using our BOB’s for anything other than dire emergencies – like a nearby chemical spill or our neighborhood is on fire.
If we are forced by Mother Nature or man-made nastiness to leave our stocked home, we have optional safe destinations (pre-arranged) with written plans for our family on getting there. We’ll throw our BOB’s in the vehicle just in case the black top turns into a very long parking lot and forces us to abandon our wheeled transportation.
4.) They’re Potential Refugee Bags
Options are great to have. But bugging out to nowhere in particular makes you a refugee. This whole live-off-the-land theory is just that – theory. Heading to the hills to survive fosters the romance of living off the land like mountain men. Once there, you won’t be alone. Other scared Refugee BOB-ers read that same book or blog and will be joining you. Hungry. Thirsty. Desperate. Armed. And desperate. I repeat myself.
A Better Option
If things deteriorate to a point of eminent death if you stay put, by all means, get out of dodge! Be smart. Plan now to have a pre-determined, well-stocked, alternative location(s).
Don’t have the money to purchase a secluded off-grid homestead or retreat? Neither do we. Talk to relatives and friends who are willing to work out a plan to provide a safe retreat. Make the plan reciprocal, of course. [Sherpa Tip: Plan to bring more to the table than you take.] Having backup plans to your backup plans is anti-fragile prepping.
Hunkering down at your own home to weather a crisis would be better than strapping on a refugee bug out bag and heading to parts unknown. If you’ve prepped even minimally, think of what you’d be leaving behind by heading to your ‘secret’ wilderness survival spot. Especially if you have to stretch 72 hours of resources to last a week – or God forbid, forever.
- Shelter – no power to your house is better than an extended stay in a debris hut… or a FEMA cot.
- Food you normally eat – not 11-year-old MRE’s. There are only x amount of deer and squirrel and such scampering through the woods to feed yourself and your fellow evacuees.
- Guns, gear, and medical supplies – rent a semi-trailer bug out vehicle maybe.
- Normal routine and familiar people – these vanish on a wilderness bug out – just before the edible plants and animals.
- Neighbors to help with security. You know your neighbors, right?
Know Your Stuff
Bug out bags that are carry-able by the average person should not be packed for comfort. Pack your kit for use. Use the stuff you pack. Never buy shiny objects to stow in your kit without testing and using them regularly.
When your survival is on the line, unfamiliarity with your gear may cost you more than lost time.
Keep Stuff Normal
Keeping your life and surroundings as normal as possible in a crisis decreases stressors, which will be abundantly present during any emergency. Why invite another monkey to ride on your overloaded bug out bag.
We all need our version of childhood security blankets. It might be your favorite coffee mug, pillow, or your cushy sofa. This stuff may seem trivial and soft to hardened survivalists, but being separated from these ‘security blankets’ adds stress.
On a more personal note, I spent 4 months living in a homeless shelter during the Y2K non-event. My basic needs were met: I had a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. What I missed most was my roof,my food I enjoyed at my table, and having the ability to wear clothes frommy closet.
Being homeless taught me to appreciate the ‘security blanket’ of home. Normal stuff we take for granted. The stuff we use in our daily lives.
I’ll close by answering my original, loaded question. Bugging out on foot, even without small children in tow, would require a rather large load of S*** Hitting the Fan to force me and DRG to leave our home with only the stuff in our BOB’s. Not my idea of romance.
What would it take for you?
Keep Doing the Stuff!
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Contributed by Todd Walker of Survival Sherpa.
Todd Walker is married to the lovely Dirt Road Girl, proud father and grandfather, a government school teacher, a lover of the primal lifestyle and liberty. You can check out his website at Survival Sherpa with a vision of helping each other on the climb to self-reliance and preparedness…the Survival Sherpa way…One step at a time. Follow him on Twitter. Send him mail: firstname.lastname@example.org