4 Monolithic Myths About Bug Out Bags

by Todd Walker

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 ex-perts. 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 ex-perts in the preparedness community say doesn’t always harmonize with actual experience.

Here’s 4 reasons why…

Image courtesy of Mountain Goat Diaries http://mountaingoatdiaries.blogspot.com/2011/03/nepal-in-pictures.html

Image courtesy of Mountain Goat Diaries

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?

No.

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.

4 Monolithic Myths About Bug Out Bags

Not very tacti-cool!

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 of pet 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.

4 Monolithic Myths About Bug Out Bags

DRG and ‘Abby’ testing her new hammock last summer

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 from my 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!

Todd

P.S. – DRG and I hope each of you had a Merry Christmas! Stay tuned for an exciting announcement that will help you have the most prepared new year ever!!!

P.S.S. - You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, Google +, and our Facebook page.

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Categories: Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “4 Monolithic Myths About Bug Out Bags

  1. Methane creator

    Well written and fact based. I try to spend my dollars on improving security for my home. I have the food & water. We have some grab and go bags in the event of a fire, cheemical spill, dirty bombs, etc. just not enough stuff in them to stay comfortable in the Texas “woods” for a long length of time. In the woods, every noise or sound will kick your adrenalin into hyperdrive. We know the sounds of our neighborhood. Great article for us to think about.

    • Good point on the adrenalin rush, Methane! I think about this every time in the woods (deer home) hunting. They know every nook and cranny. They live there 24/7. I’m just visiting in unfamiliar territory.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Living in the tiny little pimple called the UK, ANY mass migration from towns and cities will cause problems as it’s impossible to arm ,thus protect yourself, suitably.

    You’re absolutely right about the average John and Joan Doe not being able to survive in the wild, especially here, BUT the pickings are rich and relatively easy to acquire in the UK so why bother learning.

    That’s why most of the “enlightened” are thinking more about a planned evac leaving the armchair (forum) preppers sat drinking tea.

    • Our son was stationed in the UK a few years ago and experience major culture shock when it came to owning weapons of any kind. I pray we don’t get to that point in the states. But many elitists would love that for us.

      Arm-chairing is happening here too. Doing the stuff takes effort and foresight and desire. Many want it but aren’t willing to pay the price in the window. Good luck to you and your countrymen. We’re all going to need some. :)

  3. mariowen

    In my situation, where we are in a pocket of many hundreds of homes in a close subdivision, it would be only a lunatic (or a cutthroat survivalist!) who would leave home, only to be thrown into the existing countryside with a bunch of hungry, angry, gun toting fellow neighbors. I will stay put right in my home unless there is fire. We live on a hillside so flooding is never a problem. If there is an event of chemical weapons, bombs, whatever, will I be better off hiding out in the forest with a ton of other people? NO. I also have livestock which must be cared for. I will haul them all into my house if necessary. It wouldn’t be the best of conditions, but if SHTF we wouldn’t be living in the best of conditions, would we?

  4. Brad

    Im not sure how practicle it would be, and I hope I dont find out, but I plan on bungeeing my gear to a large tires dolly. Considering I live in fairly flat terrain with lots of grassland, rolling my load rather than carrying it I feel will make for an easier trip for anyone who isnt some twenty year old Marine. Just a thought.

    • Simple machines come into play and should be used at every chance. Wheeled carts wouldn’t work too well in our terrain though – Eastern woodlands.

      I’m way past the 20 year old mark. Still stay active and in decent shape for an old man. ;)

  5. jack plaisted

    I have decided to shelter in place. I live on the wooded outskirts of a city of 14000 people. Very few people know anyone lives in this location. Its on a steep wooded hill top. I have schooled by family in light, odor and noise discipline. I have trained them all in martial arts, hand to hand weapons medical care and firearms. It will take something pretty drastic to have us abandon this area.

    • We each have our individual circumstances to consider when making our plans. Hunkering down in your location with supplies with fortifications will help. But don’t put too much trust in people not knowing about your location. They have Google Earth.

      With that being said, sounds like you’re building a good hedge against having to bug out. The security issue takes numbers. Y’all have to sleep. Some type of rotation would be in order if the S hits the Fan in a big way. You’ve probably got that handled already. Modern technology powered by alternative energy sources are force multipliers.

      Thanks for chiming in, Jack. Keep doing the stuff, my friend!

      • Brad

        I will remind everyone that the question is about bug out bags for bugging out. This isnt about whether we will choose to. I plan on sheltering in place as well. However, I have a few very specific reasons I would bug out and I have gear for that scenario however unlikely.

      • Good point, Brad. DRG and I have plans and a prepared place to retreat to it gets to that point. Pray it never does! But just in case, we’ll roll… or walk… or crawl to get there.

        Our first choice is to stay put. But like you mentioned, sometimes the circumstances (individualized) make the choice for us.

        Thanks for keeping us on track!

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  8. sam

    In case of a bug-out, I have acquired (not stolen) a shopping cart which I intend to modify with larger wheels. I also have a 2-wheeled dolly, and a baby stroller (pram to our friends in the UK) to handle supplies. I will use whichever one suits me at the time.

  9. sam

    P.S.- I also have a child’s wagon as another option.

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  12. S.Lynn

    I have a BOB to get me from work to home (28 miles into the foothills) which only entails having an overnight or two of supplies. Backwoods 2 lane road thru farmland and walnut orchards. Not much traffic so should be fairly safe to maneuver thru. Otherwise our future retirement homestead (in another 3 months) is 500 miles up north. Just…hang…on…til…then.

  13. There’s the romantic ideal of having everything on your back, ready.

    But as you point out, it don’t work in the real world.

    Planning of what “will” be usually anticipates our current physical abilities as a starting point. In a disaster scenario it’s reasonable to assume that either you, or someone you care about will need help getting around, to some degree.

    I think of it as a balancing act — what you need vs what you’d like to have. But K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) is usually a good rule of thumb. You write about this too.

    Keeping things as light as possible just makes sense to me.

    Found this neat video that takes liquid and powder stuff you need out of its bulky, heavy containers and makes it very portable. Except water, unless you want to drink it in shots. ;-)

    Drinking straws. Crimp one end with pliers leaving 1/16 of an inch sticking out, then melt that 1/16″ off with a match. That melted end is now sealed water tight.

    Fill the other end with your stuff — from sugar to antibiotic ointment — cut the straw to length, then crimp and melt.

    Instant light, protable, impact resistant, water proof container for your BOB.

    Here’s the article with video, if you want to see it in action:

    http://survivalprepper-joe.com/bug-out-bag-tip-carry-more/

    Works for stuff you want waterproffed, like matches and q-tips too. :)

    Best,
    Joe

    • Joe, I tried your video but only got the audio. The video didn’t show up. Maybe it’s just my computer. Left you a message in the comments of your post.

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