Tactical Tips for Bugging Out

by guest blogger, Dan Sullivan

When bugging out, should you stay or should you go?

The survival community has always been divided between those who prefer to bug in and those would rather bug out. Each scenario has its pros and cons and the reality is, each emergency situation will be different. 

If you must bug out, you need to be prepared to go quickly: 10 minutes or less and you're out the door. Because traveling during an emergency involves far more planning and logistical considerations than staying put, we'll focus on that.  

In this article you will learn what to do before, shortly after and during a bug out situation.

Tactical Tips for Bugging OutPhoto courtesy of Paul Brennan

Pre-Bugging Out (Or What to Do Right Now)

Think Before You Assemble Your BOB

Lots of people just get the biggest backpack they can find and then stuff it with "survival items". But there are multiple issues with doing such a thing...

First off, a heavy BOB will considerably slow you down. As you're bugging out, you'll either have to take frequent breaks or ditch some or most of the items on your back. Never overestimate how long you can walk with a fully-loaded backpack.

For more tips on how to assemble your bag, check out this article.

Break Into Your Hiking Boots

If you anticipated that you're in for a long bug out over rough terrain, then you definitely need a pair of trekking shoes ready to go. Some folks even recommend attaching them to your BOB such that, when you only have a few seconds to grab your survival bag, but you don't have time to change shoes, you'll still take them with while keeping your hands free.

Only problem is, if you don't break into your boots beforehand, you risk getting blisters as you're bugging out. You can imagine what a problem this is when you can't afford to take too many breaks. Pack blister bandages to prevent foot sores from slowing you down.

Get Used to Wearing a Heavy Backpack

Many preppers suggest taking your bug out bag for a ride to see just how far you can walk. However, there's a more practical and productive way of doing it...

The next time you go shopping, instead of taking the car, get a backpack and walk there. Load all your groceries into your bag and walk back home. This will not only provide a reality check, it will also improve your stamina and you'll save money on gas.

Don't Rely On Your Car to Bug Out

If you'll be dealing with an EMP, your car, and all other electronics, will probably stop working. You should have several ways to bug out including on foot and using an alternate bugging out vehicle such as an inflatable boat, a mountain bike or even a folding skateboard.

Another thing to be prepared for is the possibility of abandoning your car or even your bug out bag. This last scenario may sound tough but I think you'll agree that your life is worth more than a bag full of gear. This is why you should pack additional survival items (multi tool, energy bars, space blanket, etc.) in your pockets. In the event you need to ditch your main supply, a back up stash can mean the difference between arriving safely at your destination or not.

Don't Forget to Pack Things to Assist You In Your Journey

I made a list of BOB essentials here but I need to remind you to pack a few of the things that will make your bug-out easier:

  • a head-lamp (to keep your hands free)
  • a pair of work gloves (to pick heavy objects out of the way, climb fences, move branches out of the way as you're moving through the woods, to protect the palms of your hands if you fall, etc.)
  • a sleeping bag (because you might not make it to your bug out retreat soon enough)
  • a bandanna (to protect your head from sun rays and wind)
  • sunglasses
  • ear buds (to sleep better or to protect your ears during a shootout)

What To Do When It's Time to Flee

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

If you hear news that things are going to take a turn for the worse, you might think that you still have time. Maybe they'll go back to normal. Maybe.

It's much better to bug out ASAP and look like a fool than to do it when it's already too late and risk your life and the life of your family. Even if it's a false alarm, it's still good practice.

Keep Critical Items On Your Person, Not In The Bag

If you already have an everyday carry kit, then you're already covered. You want to be prepared for the scenario in which you lose your backpack or if it's taken away from you. Some of these include:

  • your phone
  • your survival knife
  • water purification tablets
  • a flashlight
  • a bandana

Don't Be a Creature of Habit

Why? Because everyone else is. Everyone's used to doing the things they do every day so, in a bugging out situation, they're going to use the routes they already know to escape. That's why it's good to not just know all the alternative routes to get out of town but to actually walk them. After all, we're creatures of habit as well. You need to be creative and willing to adapt to bug out safely.

What To Do During a Bug-Out

Stay In Touch With Current Events

Before you start the journey, it's critical to watch or listen to the news to see which parts of the city are compromised, destroyed or full of rioters and looters. You can use the TV to see where you shouldn't go but, once you're out the door, you'll have to rely on a portable AM/FM radio or your smartphone and social media (if available).

One trick is to pack a pair of headphones in your BOB because, while you don't want to attract attention with a loud radio, you need to stay tuned to the latest developments so you can adjust your course as you're moving.

Know Where You're Going

Knowing all the bug out routes out of your town or city is crucial. It's very likely that the main (and even secondary) roads will be overcrowded with people desperately trying to get out. Expect traffic jams and fights should you decide to use one of the main freeways or arteries to bug out.

If You Can, Avoid The Woods

The classical bugging out scenario is to flee through the woods to avoid most people. However, it's also going to be very slow since you'll be on foot over rough terrain. Ideally, you want to get to your destination (or as far away as possible from the catastrophic event) as soon as possible.

Keep Out Of Sight

As you're bugging out, stay out of sight as much as you can. Of course, you shouldn't choose to go down a darkened street if that causes you to deviate from your route.

In reality, you might have to change course, but don't do it unless you have good reason and it is safe to do so.

Cooking and Teamwork Go Hand In Hand

Bugging out with a small group has its advantages. While one of you is cooking, the others should keep an eye out for other people. Considering most won't have a survival bag, let alone extra food, you're likely to become a target should they smell your cooking.

Avoid Using Traditional Flashlights

Of course, this is problematic; light will help you avoid accidents along your journey, but you don't want to draw attention to yourself. Infrared (IR) flashlights are invisable to the naked eye, but work just like traditional flashlights when seen through IR night-vision goggles. If it isn't practical to outfit your whole group with night vision equipment (it can cost hundreds), pool your resources to buy just one. Then, travel single-file behind the leader.

Get Enough Rest

Bugging out is going to be one of the most exhausting things you'll ever do. Adrenaline will be pumping and you'll want to arrive at your destination as quickly as possible. However, people greatly underestimate the importance of rest. Be sure to take adequate breaks enroute. Sleeping for 8 hours straight may not be possible, so try to sleep in 90 to 120 minutes cycles. Keep in mind that in a bug-out situation, you'll have more opportunities to rest than to sleep.

Stay Alert

Bugging out is not walk in the park. Your awareness levels should be high throughout the process because you never know when you'll be ambushed or run into some other kind of trouble. Keep your eyes open and your senses sharp by looking in 360 degrees as you travel.

This is actually easy to practice. The next time you're out (going to work, shopping, walking through the forest, etc.), try to focus your attention your surroundings. Notice every noise, every movement and every smell. As your mind tries to come back to your day-to-day thoughts and worries, ignore them and get back to analyzing your environment. 

Trust me, after a while it will become second nature.

About The Author: Dan Sullivan is the rising star among survival bloggers through his unique, fluff-free content. Although he's aware things are going from bad to worse, he doesn't shy from encouraging preppers to also live their lives in addition to prepping for the worst.

Want more bug out bag tips? Check out more bug out bag checklist ideas here.

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