Emergency preparedness is just good common sense, it’s easy, and it always pays off — even if you never have a near-death experience with a tornado! Those who are very serious about emergency tend to call themselves survivalists. At the other end of the scale are the “no labels” crowd and other moderates and progressives. The term “survivalist” is way too content-rich for their blood; they call themselves “outdoor enthusiasts.” Whatever you call yourself, this article is for you!
In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about Bugging Out:
- When to Bug Out and when to Bug In.
- What you need in a Bug Out Bag.
- The difference between a bugout bag (BOB) and an everyday carry bag (EDC).
- Super fun videos of various BOBs and EDCs.
- Links to more info on this and outside web sites so you can really drill down and learn this stuff.
Let me give you a big tip — make this a family project. It’s fun, and emergency prep is good for everyone! Instead of wasting another evening flipping channels, get the family together around the computer and check this stuff out (although we do not guarantee G-rated content on external sites).
While you’re at it, go ahead and take this opportunity to sign up for updates. There are huge benefits and no downside. For the first week you’ll get about five emails, then you’ll only hear from us 1-3 times a month, and we’ll always respect your privacy. Best of all, you’ll get the famous Top Ten Survival Tips for free. So fill out the form on the right and get started learning everything you and your family need to know about emergency preparedness.
Who needs information about bugging out
Everyone from extreme survivalists to occasional hikers need to know how to bug out. In fact, if you woke up breathing this morning, you need this info. Here’s just a sampling of people who will benefit (no particular order, not a complete list):
- Homeschoolers. There are lots of homeschool subgroups ranging from the frumpy homeschool moms with hairpins and no makeup, to the hip homeschool moms who post PG-13 pictures of their tight jeans on Facebook just to prove they don’t wear homemade pillowcase dresses. You all buy organic in bulk from the co-op, you have your own garden (at least an herb garden), you’ve seriously considered the Paleo diet, and you’re pretty sure everything has MSG. But your last experience with emergency prep was Y2K, and you can’t bear the thought of surviving just on beans and rice. You need more info about being ready for the TEOTWAWKI — The End Of The World As We Know It. Breathe easy; you’ve come to the right place.
- Senior Hippies. Hey man, it turns out you were right all along about the brown rice and tahini, and that’s good because it might be the only thing that saved you from destroying your brain with mushrooms and LSD. You have a serious advantage over the neo preppers (see below) because you’ve been ready since 1960. I learned half my survivalist skills from you guys, so God bless you.
- Neo Preppers. You know more about Maxpedition bags than about the PS3, and your online DOTA friends think that’s a little weird, but keep at it — you might save them someday. Your grandparents still keep a serious garden and can vegetables for the whole winter, but they’re getting old and you have to help them. That’s OK because you’re starting to think you might should raise one too. You can’t understand why kids get expelled for having a pocketknife at school, and although you’ve never been a genuine hunting enthusiast, you hunt just enough to be sure you know how. Dirt bikes are dope, and if you can ever afford a Polaris RZR, you’re definitely getting one.
- Conspiracy Theorists. You cover the range from corporate defense lawyer (I know one) to diesel mechanic to rural church pastor. You know more about the grassy knoll than Oliver Stone and you grumble every time you see a contrail. You take OPSEC to stratospheric heights; some of you have had friends for thirty years who still don’t know about your hidden gun stash.
Whatever your level of preparedness, you need to know a few fundamentals, which we have organized on this page for your convenience.
Bugging Out Defined
I have found that the least-understood aspect of emergency preparedness is the concept of bugging out. It just sounds so extreme, and reasonable people can wonder whether it’s a waste of time to prepare for it. I mean, we’re talking about preparing for something that basically calls for you to drop everything, grab your bag, and head to a safe location, and in today’s United States that’s just wacko. For your efforts to pay off you have to expect a disaster of some kind, like war, riot, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, ice storm, earthquake, fire, flood……..
Wait a minute. Maybe it’s not so crazy after all.
Bugging out is simply about getting from where you are to where you need to be. You need supplies to help you get there, like a flashlight, snack bars, water, and so on. That’s what your bug out bag (or BOB) is for, and we’ll look at the suggested contents later.
- On foot. If you’re at work when an earthquake destroys everything, you want to be able to get safely home. If the roads are clogged, you’ll have to hoof it. If it’s normally a one-hour commute, that might take two or three days, so you need some way to keep warm, dry, fed, and hydrated. In this case your BOB should be a backpack. Your contents are limited by how much you can carry.
- In a vehicle. If you’re driving to your bugout location (BOL), you’re in a bugout vehicle (BOV). In this case your BOB can be bigger with more stuff in it because you don’t have to carry it.
- Leaving home. Depending where you live, you might want to prepare a safe location elsewhere. For instance, if you live in a fortieth-floor studio, your BOL will be on your grandparents’ farm, maybe in the abandoned 120-year-old house they were born in. In this case, your BOB stays permanently in your BOV so it’ll be there when you have to drive to the BOL.
- Staying home. If your residence is already the best place to be when the Big Crunch comes, you won’t bug out, you’ll bug in. You need to focus on getting home from wherever you are. That means you’ll have a BOB in every vehicle, and maybe one stored at work in case you find yourself at work one day without a car.
The best bugout bag might be a big backpack. I use the Maxpedition Doppelduffel, which has a lot of excellent qualities, but it’s not designed as a long-hike backpack. Still, this video shows the kind of stuff you want in a BOB:
Additional Bugout Bag links:
- Read SNO’s comprehensive Bugout Bag article. It includes a detailed description of all suggested contents.
- BOBs on Survivalistboards.com:
The Difference Between a Bugout Bag and an Everyday Carry Bag
Bugout bags and everyday carry bags perform different functions, and you need to know the difference.
An everyday carry bag is something you carry everyday, everywhere. It has all the stuff you use all the time, like your pocketknife, flashlight, ear buds, and lip balm. It’ll have more stuff than that, limited by how much weight you want to have on you all the time.
A bugout bag is bigger and heavier. It has what you’ll need for about three days in an emergency — just enough to get you home or to another BOL. Unlike your EDC bag, you don’t carry this on your person everywhere you go. It stays in your bugout vehicle, at your workplace, or in the closet by the back door of your house.
Watch these videos about everyday carry bags:
These SNO Everyday Carry Articles have additional info relating directly to the videos above:
- Maxpedition Everyday Carry Comparison
- Survival Plan 3 – Everyday Carry
- Maxpedition Sitka Gearslinger — Ideal Everyday Carry
Other Everyday Carry Resources:
Setting Up Your Bugout Location
Your BOL is where you want to be when the Big Crunch happens. It might be a property you own out West, or your grandfather’s old farmhouse, a friend’s hunting property… it could even be your own house, depending where you live. In any event, your BOL should have the following characteristics:
- It should not share the risk you’re trying to abate. For instance, if you live in Miami and the greatest risk you’re trying to abate is hurricanes, don’t set up a BOL on Lake Okeechobee.
- It should be well stocked. Once you get there, you want to be able to eat, drink, and keep safe from the elements for some time without support. I know you’re wondering how long, but who knows? My suggestion would be a minimum of a few days, but once you have that covered, just keep expanding your stock and infrastructure. Eventually you’ll be set for several weeks or months.
- It should be defensible. In hard times people tend to come together and help each other, but in Armageddon-type disasters you also have to contend with riots, looting, and roving gangs of bad guys.
- It should provide for your family plus 100%. In other words, you should figure how much stuff you need and then double it. This allows for mistakes, waste, loss, and the inevitable relatives who show up desperate for help. You might fault someone for not preparing, but you can’t blame his wife and kids, so you might find yourself having to share the goods.
- It should be private to some degree. OPSEC (operational security) practices dictate that you not tell everyone (or anyone) where your BOL is. By all means, tell the wife and kids, but then use a great deal of discretion in deciding who else knows about it. Exchanging this info with a trusted friend might make sense — you might need to show up at his BOL.
Additional BOL planning resources:
- Make Your Emergency Plan During National Preparedness Month
- Safety in Numbers — How to Build a Survival Network
- Mtn Wilderness Survival Retreat Experiences with 60 + pics
- Supply Checklist for your bugout location
- How to prepare for a natural disaster
What About the Bugout Vehicle?
Whatever vehicle you’re in or on when you head to your BOL is, by definition, your bug out vehicle. There are as many kinds of BOV as there are survivalists, so you’ll find a tremendous amount of variation among BOVs, and even some conflicting information about what you need. Generally:
- The more versatile the vehicle, the better. In a bugout situation you might not be able to stay on the roads; in this scenario a 4WD pickup or SUV beats a limo.
- The bigger the better. A Ford Expedition carries more stuff and people than a Suzuki Samurai. This is why the official Survival News Online Bugout Vehicle is so gigantic.
- Smaller is better. Yes, I know this directly contradicts what I just said. If you really need to go deep into the woods, a Suzuki Samurai or even a dirt bike beats a Ford Expedition. This is why we have dirt bikes.
- Range beats economy. In a survival situation, you don’t care about fuel economy if you have tremendous range due to big tanks. So don’t sell that big SUV just to save on gas.
- Don’t worry about EMP-proofing. True, today’s electronically-controlled cars won’t run after being hit by the electromagnetic pulse associated with a nuclear explosion, so an EMP-proof car has to be purely mechanical — you have to go back to the 70s to find cars with no electronic controls. My point is, don’t let that stop you from setting up your BOV. Yes, you might be out of luck in case of an EMP, but it’ll still work for you in case of earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, riot, conventional war, and so on.
- Break out the old RV. Yes, an RV is an excellent BOV. It has tons of storage, living room, food, water, comforts… OK, it’s not very maneuverable, but hey, you can’t have it all. Unless you can afford one of these:
External Bugout Vehicle Links:
- The Alpharubicon BOV page
- What makes a good bugout vehicle? | The Survival Spot Blog
- Survivalist Boards BOV discussion
- Survivalist Site BOV Basics
A lot of you are wondering what our own BOV looks like. Well, it just so happens we just took delivery of the brand new, 2011 Official Survival News Online Bugout Vehicle. Take a look at the SNOmobile buildup here, and then STAY TUNED because we’re going to upload several episodes about the SNOmobile, including inside and outside tours. Don’t forget to fill out the form in the sidebar — that way you’ll get the updates and learn everything that’s cool about the SNOmobile. And if you have any suggestions for an article, just use the contact form (under About in the menu) and let us know.