Monday, October 18, 2010

Short-term Bug Out Scenarios

Keep This in Mind: Bugging Out Does Not Always Imply a Long Stay in the Woods:

Not all bug-out situations will involve long-term escape and evasion in a remote stretch of wilderness or other uninhabited area.  Some people may get the impression that bugging out means an "all or nothing" strategy of backwoods survival, when in fact the chances of having to implement such a serious bug-out plan are much less than the possibilities of a short term bug-out escape. My philosophy has always been to be over-prepared for any given endeavor, whether a long-distance sea kayak trip, a backpacking trip or an offshore sailboat passage.  If you feel confident you are ready for an experience of much greater duration and difficulty than what you will likely run into, then everything else will seem easy by comparison.

With regards to the self-sufficient bug-out bag, the idea is that if you are prepared and equipped to survive as long as necessary while on the move in a remote area, you will thus by default be equally or more so prepared for events of shorter duration.  You may not need to hunker down in the nearest river bottom swamp or retreat to a mountain wilderness at all.  Perhaps you simply need the gear to travel cross-country to reach your own pre-stocked cabin, or the home of a friend or relative in an area unaffected by the event that forces you to leave.  By having the gear and having a plan of action that includes knowing where you can go and how you will get there, you have taken the necessary steps to look out for your own evacuation and security and you will not become a refugee as so many who bash the bug-out option would have you believe.  Refugees are the unprepared who are waiting to be rescued or herded in buses or other means to a safe area, leaving their fate in the hands of the authorities and others.  If your bug-out bag includes everything you need to survive an extended stay in an uninhabited area and you have the skills and knowledge to do so, then any thing less will be that much easier.

Having a well-thought out bug-out plan prepares you for the worst-case scenario.  That doesn’t mean such an all-out SHTF total breakdown scenario is bound to happen, and the plan or parts of the plan can serve you well in a lesser event.  You may simply need to get out of the danger zone of a terror attack, or retreat from an approaching hurricane, or leave a city that has broken out in riots.  The bug-out bag can also serve as a get home bag in certain situations where you may be traveling and some event happens that would make it difficult to reach your family and get them to safety if not for the gear you are carrying. 

With this in mind, the well-stocked bug-out bag will have everything you need to meet the essentials of survival: proper clothing, shelter and the means to make fire, as well as food and water for the first 3 days.  But it should go beyond what is often called a “72-hour bag” and include essential survival tools to include a hunting weapon and other tools to procure more food, purify the water you will have to use when you exhaust your supply, and construct more substantial shelters if needed.   With this sort of bug-out bag and the skills to use what it contains that you should practice in advance, you will be prepared three days and much more if necessary. 


  1. Great article. It gets to a point that I have always tried to make. If your (bob) has what you need to survive a new life out in the outlands to begin with then shorter bugouts will be made easier. You can cut the weight as much as possible but if you dont carry it you dont have it.

  2. Very good point. A couple of years ago, traveling along Hwy 90 in Western Texas from Del Rio to Van Horn is a lonely road, especially at night (man, its DARK out there!).

    Being stranded out there would be an emergency if weather conditions like a snow storm would definitely be cause for concern. Having a BOB onboard would definitely help out, if not just to be more comfortable. Especially when it comes to needed medications.

  3. Outlander777,

    There's always that trade-off between weight savings and taking what you need. No easy answers to that one, but that's why I always advocate trial runs, whether simulated bug-out drills or just recreational trips into the wild. It's the only way to really learn what is essential and what you can do without.


    You're right, it is dark out there on that lonely stretch of Hwy. 90. I've traveled it many times. I love that part of Texas though and would give about anything to be running west on Hwy. 90 about right now in this fine weather on my motorcycle.

    But yes, it's good to have a B.O.B. on board, no matter how you travel or where.

  4. Good article; a short term bug out does not necessarily mean you're not coming back. Would be interested in your opinion on what sort of "bug out items" to take when going on a short (less than a week) business trip in another state. I realize certain items like knife or even a multi-tool would not go over well in airport security.

    1. For some off reason, security keeps missing one of my Leatherman Micras lately, that I obviously keep forgetting to remove myself. I recently went out of town via plane and felt absolutely naked without essential EDC much less GHB items. I'm so afraid to include anything in my checked luggage out of fear it will get stolen. We all spend a lot of money on our items and the last thing we need is for Mr Sticky Fingers to take possession. I once had a Surefire taken (carry on) while on a flight out of Myanmar because they said I might use it to signal someone. He implied someone OUTSIDE the plane. Seriously.

      I've traveled with gear overseas for a horse backing riding trip in Mongolia (although it was briefly stolen while there but I got it all back, less cash. Funny story actually) and made it out lucky but was nervous as to if it would be there in baggage claim. And Scott, thankfully my
      Voyager was where I had left it. :)

  5. Apartment Prepper,

    It's always more difficult when you are traveling by air, but if you don't mind the hassle of checking a bag for a short trip, you can carry items like knives and multi-tools that way. I've carried all sorts of gear like that in checked luggage, including machetes. You can even transport firearms if they are appropriately packed and declared.

    So to answer your question, I would look at something between an EDC bag and a full-blown bug-out bag, depending on the trip. I wouldn't bother with the firearm unless I was going somewhere like Alaska, but I almost always check a bag on any plane trip so I can have my Cold Steel Voyager and my Leatherman Wave in my pocket when I get where I'm going. Not because I'm worried that I'll get in a bug-out scenario, but because the trip will often involve kayaking, camping or sailing - all activities that require sharp knives for safety.


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