Everyone talks about having a bug out bag prepared and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Having a bug out bag does no good unless you have a bug out plan to go with it.
The key to being successful in any endeavor is to have a robust and complete plan. It takes time to develop your strategy for bugging out. Any seasoned prepper knows the value in creating and practicing your bugging out plan. It’s recommended that you practice bugging out so that all of your family members are ready to go.
Putting together a bug out plan seems intimidating, we know. So we will break down exactly what you need to consider when making your bug out plan including:
- What is a Bug out Plan
- Why a Bug out Plan is Critical
- Things to Keep in Mind and Common Mistakes to Avoid
- 10 Best Items for your Bug out Bag
This is a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.
What is a Bug Out Plan?
Preppers are familiar with the term “bug out” that comes from the military, adapted from the 1950s, and adopted from the preparedness community. The idea is that you leave your normal life or home in a hurry; bugging out is an emergency departure due to an uncontrollable situation.
A bug out plan is simply a plan that helps you be prepared during your emergency exit. Having a bug out bag is only one step to the plan; now you have to figure out what to do, where to go, how to get there, and more. It’s everything you need to know and have planned to ensure your exit works successfully.
Why Is It Important to Have a Bug Out Plan
Bugging out is a severe situation. It’s not a scene from a movie when the heroine drives a car through fire and a hoard of zombies, eventually finding her happy-ever-after. Real-life isn’t a movie; driving through a road filled with fire rarely turns out well.
Setting up a plan ahead of the disaster helps you stay focused for your escape. Your plan is set; all of your questions are answered and, at a moment’s notice, your plan starts.
The first thing you need to consider is – do you even need to be bugging out. Evaluating whether or not you need to evacuate, chances are your home has all of the stockpiles and preparations required for whatever is headed your way.
So why leave?
We know that bugging out has many risks, such as exposing your family to dangerous thieves or environmental dangers, such as hypothermia. Simultaneously, depending on your situation, staying in your home might be just as dangerous. What if rioters come to your home? Or perhaps a wildfire or hurricane is on the way, leaving your home is the safest choice.
Sometimes, bugging out is safer than bugging in, and that’s when you need your plan.
What to Keep in Mind When Creating a Bug Out Plan
Creating a bug out plan requires plenty of thinking and planning. Here are some things to consider when creating your plan. The last thing you want to do is miss critical supplies through poor planning.
1. Consider the Disasters That Might Happen in Your Area
Take a look at the disasters that might happen in your area. Floods, earthquakes, or tornados are potential natural disasters. Certain cities are targets for terrorist attacks.
These are factors that you need to consider when making your plan for when disaster strikes. It helps you decide which options are best for your plan. Some disasters offer more time to evacuate, while others require an immediate exit with little to no warning.
It’s essential to create multiple disaster plans for each scenario. Think about if communications go down. Or widespread disasters, such as an EMP or power grid failure, that might affect the entire country.
2. Think about Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Your plan considers your strengths and weaknesses, increasing your chances of survival. Part of your bug out prep should be to improve your skills because it makes bugging out easier.
What are examples of personal strengths?
- Personally fit
- Perform survival first aid
- Ability to make a fire
- Navigation skills using a compass or a map
- Knowledge of plants and animals
The more skills and strengths you have, the fewer things you need to bring with you. If you know all of the edible plants in your area, you don’t need to bring a book with you to help with identification. And if you are skilled in creating your own shelter, your options rise exponentially.
3. Find Your Bug out Location and Narrow the List
It’s best not to pick only one bug out location; what if a flash flood blocks your exit route?
The best recommendation is to pick at least four destinations as part of your bug out plan. Pick one location for each cardinal direction – north, south, east, and west. That allows you to tailor where you need to go depending on the event that is occurring.
For example, if a flash flood is coming towards you from the south, heading to the south, east, or west is unwise. You want to race away from the flood towards the north. If a hurricane is headed in your direction from the east, head west.
Each bug out location needs multiple routes to increase the chances of successfully reaching your destination. You never know what you’ll encounter along the way, and if GPS goes down, you need to be able to reach it with a map and a compass.
4. Be Familiar with Your Bug Out Location
Having four cabins isn’t practical for most people, but you have to be familiar with your bug-out location and have some gameplan for once you arrive.
The last thing you should do is plan to bug out into the countryside and think you can hunker down on someone’s farmland. Rural residents understand well that city folk will evacuate and head their way. They’re ready with firearms; don’t make that mistake.
Chances are you won’t be able to get out there. Rural residents know each other on a first-name basis and will band together to protect their assets. The best option is to buy land and create a retreat, but if that’s not financially possible for you, here are some other options.
- Form a prepping group
- Rent land from a farmer
- Buy a used RV or other bug out vehicle
- Find your closest state or national park with cabins
5. Calculate How Fast You Need to Travel
Planning your escape routes to your destination is essential, but you must consider safety and how fast you need to travel to reach the location. The average travel speed depends heavily on several factors, including the type of bug out vehicle. Examples of those factors include:
- Bug Out Bag Weight
An average person shouldn’t carry more than 25% of their body weight in a backpack. If you weigh 200lbs, carry no more than 50lbs of gear.
That’s why narrowing your bug out bag list to essential items is necessary. Try to perform a test carry of your bag over for several hours or however long you believe you need to carry your supplies to reach your destination.
Depending on where you’re headed, you might need to carry your backpack for hours or days.
Most women walk at speed from 2.5-4 miles per hour on flat ground. Think about what type of terrain you need to transverse. Some people think that hiking downhill is faster than uphill, but it’s not true because most people need to walk slowly downhill when carrying a pack. It requires proper footing and bracing. Remember, safety first!
- Overall Fitness
Someone fit covers more ground at a faster pace than someone unfit. This is not the time for egos; be practical when accessing your overall fitness.
If you think you would benefit from an increase in fitness, start slowly, walking and running more often.
- Who is in Your Party
Who comes with you when you bug out is essential when considering how fast you can go. Elderly people and children take more time and need more time for assistance and breaks. Consider this when planning your routes.
- Mode of Transportation
Most calculations are based on reaching your destination via foot, but some situations require other transportation modes. You won’t outrun a flash flood on foot; you need a bug out vehicle.
6. Consider a Cache
Placing a cache along your routes is a brilliant idea. A cache is a waterproof, weather-proof, animal-proof container that is hidden along the way. It replenishes your bug out bag and ensures that you have all you need.
Supplies to put in your cache include:
- Non-perishable food
- Communication Devices
On a serious note, make sure more than one person in your group knows where the cache is; you might not make it there.
7. Don’t Forget About Security
We hate to think about it, but security during an SHTF scenario is vital. It’s recommended to carry a firearm or two with you for personal protection.
10 Must-Have Items on Your Bug Out Bag List
What survival gear is on your bug out bag list varies based on your climate and who is in your group. And it also depends on if you need to prepare a baby bug out bag. But there are some bug out bag must-have supplies that everyone should have.
Without a doubt, the most important thing to include in your bug out prep is water; a human only survives for 72 hours without water. Walking and burning calories will lead to exhaustion, so water is a must-have in your bag, but carrying water is heavy.
If possible, try to include one to two gallons of water per person, along with:
- Water purifying straws
- Water purification tablets
- Collapsible water bottle
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Carry enough food to last three days, at least, along with cooking utensils and cookware. Ideally, the food shouldn’t take up too much space and provide the calories needed. This can be hard if you have kids who are picky but think about calories and survival.
Examples you might include are:
- Protein bars
- Crackers with peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Trail mix
- Pouches of tuna or cooked chicken
- Extra Clothing
In the summer, extra clothes are less of a concern, but hypothermia is a real risk in the winter. Bring two to three extra changes of clothes for each person; there should always be a dry set of clothes to wear. Make sure to include extra pairs of socks, hats, and gloves.
- Fire Starter
Let’s not go back to the stone bag; fire and heat are essential. Always have a back-up for your back-up. You need a minimum of three means of starting a fire on your bug out bag list. We always recommend packing a ferro rod.
And finally, make sure you have a waterproof storage container for them.
- Tarp or Tent
A tarp or survival tent is vital for shelter. After all, you need a dry place to sleep. If possible, try carrying one or two of each; if you have multiple people in your group, spread it out.
Consider hooking a sleeping bag on each bag’s top or bottom for a comfortable, warm sleeping environment.
It’s best to carry a wool blanket with you as well as a few emergency blankets. These come in tiny pouches, so it’s easy to store several in your bug out bags.
- First-Aid Kit
You cannot carry a substantial first aid kit with you, but it should have all of the basics and then some with you. Things such as splints, bandaids, Quik Clot, and butterfly closures are essential, as well as disinfectants. If you have emergency antibiotics, consider bringing those as well.
- Survival Knife
Whether you have a survival knife or another multi-purpose tool, you need something that can help you survive in the wild. You’ll want a versatile knife that can handle tasks such as carving, batoning and chopping. If you have extra room in your bug out bag, we also recommend that you take also bring a survival hatchet and machete.
Some illumination is a great idea to bring with you. These can be LED headlamps, mini LED keychains, and glowsticks.
- Compass and Map
If GPS is down, then a compass and a map are essential; you need to be able to get where you’re going and not get lost or waste time. Make sure you know how to use these before you bug out. Practice makes perfect!
And if you’re looking to add survival skills, being able to make your own compass in the wild is always a good still to have in your arsenal.
Creating a rock solid bug out plan is potentially life-saving; do you want to leave it to chance when disaster strikes? Your plan tells you where you’re heading, how to get there and helps plan for all potential contingencies along the way.
In this time of increasing civil unrest, having a bug out plan with the right survival gear is critical. Only the truly prepared will be able to survive, and thrive, in the next crisis.