Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bugging Out On Foot - Considering Alternate Routes

Okay, now that my book has been officially released, I'll be posting more related content here, including excerpts from the text and additional material to expand on some of those topics that I ran out of room for within the confines of a 302-page book. 

In Chapter Four, which covers Transportation To and Within the Bug Out Location, the last section deals with what could be a worst-case scenario - bugging out on foot, carrying everything you need on your back.  I say "could be" because in some cases the walking option may be the best option anyway.  But if you planned ahead and prepared, you'll more likely use some other method of getting out that will enable you to carry more gear and supplies.  Just as those of us who sail think that knowing how to swim is a good idea, having to swim is jokingly referred to as an ultimate failure as a navigator and sailor.  Having to resort to walking as a bug out method could be put in the same category, depending on where you are and the scenario.

If you do end up walking, however, it pays to think of the advantages this method of travel affords, rather than just dwell on the hardships and physical difficulties.  Among these advantages is the ability to use routes that no vehicle or even pack animal could negotiate.  Here are some thoughts from the book on this subject that will hopefully get you thinking about unconventional route options near your living and working locations:

The final transportation option for bugging out is simply walking. While walking may be slow, it is certainly sure and you won’t have to worry about fuel (other than food), mechanical breakdowns, or traffic jams. If you plan to walk, your packed bug-out bag, along with suitable boots and clothing as described in Chapter Two, will be all the gear you need. Walking gives you more route options than any other bugout method on land, as you can use bike paths and walking trails, cut through alleys in the city, and travel cross-country over parking lots and neighborhoods in the suburbs.

In most cities and towns there are many hidden routes you may not have thought of. Drainage culverts and ditches are among these. A good example is the small creek that runs right behind my fiancĂ©e’s house in the city of Jackson, Mississippi. Most residents of the area pay it little mind except when the creek gets out of its banks in heavy rain. When I first saw it, however, I immediately zeroed in on it as a great exit route. The creek bed has been paved and walled in by the city in an attempt to control flooding. As a result, it is mostly out of sight behind thick vegetation and the privacy fences of adjoining yards. Except in times of high water, the stream is only ankle-deep. The paved streambed leads out of the neighborhood, passes under busy streets in great culverts, and just a few miles down leaves the city to merge into the swamps of the nearby Pearl River. It would be a simple matter to walk out of town unobserved along this route. Such drainages can be found in most cities, either open and mostly above ground, or in underground storm drains that can be accessed by opening manhole covers in the streets. Like Jackson, many cities are built along the banks of rivers that periodically flood, and the buffer zone between the river and inhabited neighborhoods is often a no man’s land of levees, sewage lagoons, swamps, and woods.

In mountain country, many cites are likewise built in valleys along streams or rivers. The population situation may be reversed in these areas, with more habitable areas along the drainage and the wild areas on the steep slopes above. In this case, it may be faster to escape by simply hiking up the nearest slope and crossing the first ridge beyond the valley. 

If you’re going to have to walk out of town anyway, you might as well consider all these alternate routes that can get you to safety quicker than if you simply try to follow the roads that will be packed with cars and other vehicles. By doing so, you will be living in the bug-out mode immediately, with only the things in your backpack, as you slowly make your way to your pre-planned bug-out location.


  1. The one thing I have to keep thinking about is how to mobilize my kids in the case of a "Bugout". I bet other parents would wonder the same. Any thoughts on this if you have a couple of toddlers at home? They won't walk for very long and if you are carrying the items you need on your back.. where should you carry them?

    Just a thought!

  2. We who contemplate this "Bug Out" situation all contemplate both the options of staying in a locale vs traveling with a pack on our backs wandering the wastes. However, it is often forgotten that in most of these situations; Nuclear Event, Asteroid Event, Gamma Radiation/Sunspot Event, etc, we would suffer from world wide EMP effects most likely to last a length of time far greater than 30 days. No electricity or vehicles functioning at all without being shielded during the effective period of the EM permeation of the Earth will function. It would not be un-realistic to believe that peeps will begin to wander quite a bit in search of an area that was not affected by the former. I mention this because amongst most writings and blogs it is commonly prescribed that peeps should prepare to say in one location until supplies/situation run out or are not longer defensible before leaving. Plumbing will not function, electricity will not function even with generators in most instances, and these things are not usually considered either. Considering alternative routes out of a "bug out" locale should both be considered and rehearsed/practiced in all seriousness so that when the real situation kicks in, it won't be a surprise or prayer to make things work. Plan your routes; plan your gear, your food, Your Water and water sources within 28 days/300 miles. Consider and plan for camps in remote locations while moving, as would be required if "tango-survivors" were in an obstructionist position. Alternate everything-plans, routes, and gear is the map to Survival!!!

  3. Alex,

    That is certainly a legitimate concern. The same applies for those of us have elderly parents, or disabled family members. In these cases, vehicles of some sort (or animals such as horses or mules, or boats, depending on you location) are almost essential in your planning. Knowing where you are going to bug out to in advance makes things a lot easier too.

    Ranger 6409,

    Excellent observations and you're absolutely right about planning. Planning is the key to making the bug out option viable. Bugging out doesn't necessarily make you a refuge as some have said it would - if you have done your homework and have a well-considered plan regarding routes, locations and even resupply caches.


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