Is Bugging Out Like Camping?

Someone landed on our blog yesterday for the search term “is bugging out like camping” and I guess I could see how anyone unfamiliar with the concept could confuse it with camping.  While camping is supposed to be a fun recreational activity, bugging out is something that most of those who know what it is hope that they never have to do.

What Would You Do If All Hell Breaks Loose?

“Bugging out” comes from the term “bug-out bag”, which is a bag that is packed by a person in advance that can be used to survive up to 72 hours during an emergency situation.  The term has been expanded to mean completely abandoning your home in an emergency situation, preferably to a pre-prepared external location that has the means for you to survive longer than the initial 72 hours or indefinitely.

Why Bug Out?

There are multiple scenarios in which bugging out would be considered appropriate, whether it is due to natural disasters such as hurricanes or unnatural disasters such as riots, civil unrest, looting, bombings, alien invasion, etc.  When remaining in your home is too dangerous, being prepared to bug out can save your life.

Equipment Similarities With Camping

Fortunately for people who go camping and especially hiking often, you probably already have a lot of what you might need.  Even if you don’t, most of it are great things to add to your current camping supplies.

Typical Bug-Out Bag Contents

  • Enough food & water to reach your bug-out location (or a cache that contains more supplies)
  • Fire starting tool
  • First aid kit
  • Map of your local area
  • Poncho
  • Critical medicines
  • Firearms & appropriate ammunition
  • Cash & change (debit/credit cards may not work in an emergency)
  • Duct tape
  • Battery or crank radio
  • Light (battery or crank-operated flashlight, glow sticks, lantern, whatever you prefer)
  • Slingshot, pellet gun, or other game hunting equipment
  • Wire for multiple purposes
  • Compass
  • Sanitation supplies (a bottle of GermX, toilette wipes, etc)
  • Bandages
  • Wound disinfectant

In addition to the items mentioned above, you may also want to have a single or two person tent.  Each person having their own shelter that they’re responsible for carrying makes it easier on everyone.

Why Have A Bug-Out Location?

The initial 72 hour time period that was suggested assumes that you will be able to expect government or charitable assistance within 72 hours.  However, most people who are talking about bugging out these days are expecting there to be no assistance from any organization within 72 hours, if at all, and are prepared to survive for a considerable length of time without that assistance.

A bug-out location can mean either a location in another city that you can go to if you can’t stay in your home town in the event of a natural disaster.  Or it can mean a location that is in the woods a decent distance away from where you currently are (to be used in the event of civil unrest).  As many people have experienced outside of the United States, riots are a potential situation where you would want to bug-out and whether you bug-out to another town or to the forest completely depends upon how widespread the danger is in your area.

But, Isn’t The Whole Idea of Bugging Out Stupid?

Some people think so.  In the vast majority of cases, bugging out isn’t a necessary course of action and should only be done if your life is in immediate danger.  This article on SHTFPlan.com lists a multitude of things that you should give serious thought to before deciding whether you should bug out or not.  Bugging in is often the much better option, giving you access to food, shelter, medical supplies, and many of the comforts that you would normally have in your home.

Bugging in requires that you either remain within your home when things get really bad outside or bug out to another prepared location, whether it’s a vacation home tucked away from towns and cities or a location specifically designed to be used in an emergency situation.

Questions To Ask Before Bugging Out

  • Has my local area suddenly become very dangerous?
  • Is there a real threat of a natural or unnatural disaster imminent in my area?
  • Have I noticed a change in behavior in the people of my area?
  • Do I expect this change in behavior to continue indefinitely or degrade further?
  • Am I prepared to lose my job if I’m wrong?
  • Will my employer even still be in existence when I return?
  • Where will I go?
  • Will I walk or drive?
  • Do I have enough supplies to get there?
  • How much supplies do I have at that location?
  • Am I in immediate danger if I don’t leave ASAP?

A true “bug out” should be reserved for situations where you can answer all of the above and the answers that you give to those questions are both factual and at the same time, make you very uncomfortable in your current location.

Questions To Ask Before Bugging In

Sometimes “bugging out” can mean leaving your home to go to another location.  But, most of the time, “bugging in” means staying in your home until the danger has passed.

  • Do I expect the threat to put me in immediate danger?
  • Can I rely on government or charity to rescue me if I become trapped in my home for any reason?  (Research Hurricane Katrina if you don’t know the answer to this question.)
  • Do I expect to be without electricity?
  • Is the weather unfavorable in this area for survival without electricity?  This question is especially important if you have small children or seniors living with you.
  • Do I have a backup means of generating electricity or a means of heating or cooling my home if I do lose power?
  • Do I have enough food and water to stay here for any length of time?
  • Do all of my neighbors know I have stocked food and water in my home?  If so, are local stores being looted to the point that my neighbors will be coming to my home looking for help?  Be aware that in the face of hunger or thirst, your best friends can quickly become your worst enemies.
  • Do I have a means to defend my home, food, water, and family should looters approach?

The answers to these questions should make you feel at ease in your current location and serve to justify staying.  If you answer these questions and they do not justify staying, it’s time to leave.

Bug-Out Don’ts

  • Don’t strike out into the wilderness blindly with no idea where you’re going or if you have no supplies.  Having no supplies defeats the purpose of leaving.
  • Keep your bug-out plans simple.  Making a rendezvous with a vehicle that’s been sitting in a pre-determined location for 6 months is unrealistic, because it may not still be there when you need it.  Don’t count on it.
  • Don’t tell everyone where you’re bug-out location is and that it has all the food and water you’ll need for X amount of time.

Hopefully we’ve established in this article that bugging out isn’t like camping, but the equipment similarities are sufficiently there to confuse those who have never heard of it before.