Is your Bug Out Bag Death-Proof?

Five Ways Most Bug Out Plans End in Death

The last six months, we’ve been pouring over bug out bags put together by well-meaning preppers; Jeff Kirkham, 28-year Green Beret and Jason Ross, student-of-survival. Mostly, we’ve come to the conclusion that most bug out plans are a death trap — capable of delaying the inevitable for a few days, maybe a week.

You can see it in their kit. Most preppers are gearing up to die; relying on gear and methods that will take them down, sooner-or-later. Jeff is probably the only human being we’ve known to make a life-or-death bug out. When foreign troops he’d befriended decided to kill him, he made an overland bug out across foreboding territory to eventual safety. I’ve run winter, night and wilderness bug outs — playing out a variety of bug out plans with the very gear I’d thought to use in the worst conditions mother nature could deal out. So when Jeff and I look at a Facebook photo of another man’s kit, we can see the flies in the ointment. Here’s our summary of the five most-deadly mistakes we see in nine-out-of-ten bug out plans.

1. Surviving the wilderness. Even with the best kit, the wilderness gives up its calories kicking and screaming. Hunting rifles, fishing line, snares, traps, archery tackle… all of these assume best case scenario and they assume wildlife more-than-happy to surrender their lives. Even if a man manages to kill an animal without bringing down hordes of hungry refugees, preserving meat, and killing animals from the same area repeatedly, are incredibly-difficult tasks. All natural patterns would go skeewampus in any biosphere less than four hundred miles from civilization. Hunting pressure and wandering humans would reshuffle and alter even an experienced hunter’s experience of the wild. That new learning curve would extend far out into the regions of starvation. With a family or other dependents, the calorie and security load are so astronomical as to make it impossible even for an expert in bushcraft to survive with any certainty. If you’re planning on “riding it out” in the woods outside of town like the kids in Red Dawn, you will die.

2. Bugging out to nowhere. “Bugging out” implies that getting away from cities ensures survival. Assuming a social collapse, getting out of the city isn’t enough. A survivor needs to get somewhere safe. That usually means either a pre-stocked bug out location or a rural home. We do not consider camping in the woods in a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree threat environment a “bug out location.” Virtually any way you slice it, a family will need a substantial community to realistically share security duties and cover down on the work of water, food and sanitation. A backpack with gear is better than nothing, but it’s not much better. A community and a pre-conceived defense plan will be required to expect anything more than a week or two of survival.

3. Destroying the feet. All but ONE of the bug out bags we’ve seen posted online, we feel, would result in ruining a survivor’s feet. Any bug out bag over 15 or 20 pounds almost guarantees horrendous blisters with day-in day-out hiking. Blisters lead, invariably, to stopping and stopping leads to death. The winning bug out bag on the web had less than ten pounds of gear. Add five or six pounds of food and water and that guy is a survivor who could almost jog to his bug out location, so long as it wasn’t more than seventy or eighty miles away. Even for a young man, a bag weighing over twenty pounds (with fifteen pounds being ideal) amounts to a one-way ticket to blisterville. And nobody is tough enough to walk on bloodied feet for long.

4. Betting-it-all on hiking. Obviously, bugging out in an automobile would be ideal. A car is fast, sheltered and provides some cover. Everyone would rather drive. But most preppers figure they’ll walk if the roads get choked or if their car runs out of gas. Hiking is a horrible option, especially with dependents. When bugging out to a pre-staged location, or a rural home, speed is security. Each day on the road is another day your supplies or your friends might turn up decimated. We like to think of bugging out as three distinct plans. Plan A is driving a car. Plan C is hiking. True survivors need a Plan B; like riding motorcycles, Off-highway Vehicles or bicycles. Even a couple of Red Ryder wagons or jogging strollers would expedite a hike immensely. An automobile can cover upwards of sixty miles an hour in ideal conditions. Hiking can cover about three miles an hour, assuming no children or hiccups. Motorcycles or OHVs can be counted on for around thirty miles per hour — or around ten-times the speed of walking, gas permitting. Bicycles are good for ten to fifteen miles per hour assuming decent fitness, which amounts to around four times as fast as hiking. A good Plan B goes a long way to condensing the duration of a bug out and it lends itself to far greater survivability.

5. Ignoring the weather. Mostly, we think of summer when we picture the outdoors, because that’s mostly when we see Mother Nature — camping or hunting season. How many preppers even own a four-season tent or a negative twenty degree sleeping bag? And when we plan for a bug out vehicle, do we picture snow between here and there? Even ankle-deep snow ends most Off-highway vehicles, especially where the snow drifts up. During a collapse, even the interstate would fill with snow and ice. Knee-deep snow can stop a hiker cold (just try it,) and sub-zero temperatures and a night of snow fall can kill a family inside a summer tent. Like it or not, a bug out plan must take into consideration the worst of the weather between home and haven.

Commonly, preppers fall into the fallacy of being “way better off than the neighbors.” They imagine that a rudimentary and slapdash bug out plan is much better than ninety-nine percent of society and that they’ll surely be in the one-percent who survives. That’s nonsense. To survive, one must prepare to meet chaos in the streets and Mother Nature at her worst — not just win against the urbanite couple across the street. 

Very soon, ReadyMan will offer you the best thinking and experience Jeff, the team and I can provide — by way of the new (and free-to-members) Plan2BugOut. Like the Plan2Survive, the Plan2Bug Out will take your region, budget, family situation and other personal factors, and design a custom bug out inventory just for you. We look forward to launching it and getting your input.


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