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Monday, December 27, 2010

Backpacking and the Art of Bugging Out on Foot

Bug-Out Bags; Bug-Out Vehicles; The process of surviving the unexpected is as complicated in preparation as it is in practice. The idea of self-sufficiency demands that one be able to exist without the means of outside assistance- this includes machinery and vehicles.

Many an article has been written about bugging out when the SHTF. This philosophy demands that one determines that the situation is beyond hope and initiates the bugout before the masses realize that something is amiss.

Naturally the best case scenario would be to leave well before the disaster or collapse occurs. However, most people will not experience this perfect timing scenario and will attempt to bug-out after the proverbial balloon goes up.

There is a saying in the Military that no plan will survive the initial contact with the enemy. What that means is that all of our best laid plans will crumble to pieces the minute you introduce reality to the equation. Regardless of how much we plan; how many lists we check; something is bound to go wrong.

Even though you PMCS your BOV religiously and regardless of the fact that you've stockpiled enough gasoline to make it to your bug out location and back; something unexpected can and will happen that will leave you stranded and on a completely different course of action than you intended.

What would you do if your BOV suddenly failed you and you can no longer use it? Would you be ready to continue, on foot, to your Bug out location?

Backpacking is an awesome sport that relies solely on your own two feet to pursue. It does not require a tremendous amount of expertise to prosper. Aside from selecting and packing a lightweight pack the only thing that is required of you is to place one foot in front of the other. However, this sport can be grueling if your not physically prepared for it. Backpacking is not something that you can pick up only when you need. In order to travel effectively you must condition your body, beforehand, to endure.

While constructing your evacuation plans I urge you to consider the possibility of losing your vehicle. Mechanical failures, popped tires, and better armed thugs can all eliminate this asset from your supply list. However, if your prepared to backpack, your still mobile as long as your healthy enough to walk.

There is an entire industry dedicated to providing hikers with quality, lightweight tools to make the backpacking experience all the more tolerable. Prepping is about planning and I urge you to consider the possibility of winding up, on foot, during an extreme situation.

An excellent resource for the uninitiated is The Backpacker's Field Manual, Revised and Updated: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Back country Skills


  1. If your gear, especially footwear, isn't already tested/broken in and you don't hike on a regular basis you will have problems. After 20 miles you will be in trouble. If you do it regularly, have sufficient food and your equipment is up to the task you can probably push 100 miles a week or so. If the weather is bad or it is winter success might look more like simply staying dry in a shelter until the weather clears enough to travel. Don't even think about going into the high country in the winter. On planned snowshoe trips over known terrain it is do-able but trying to get from point A to point B over mountain passes in the winter is generally out of the question.
    Test yourself and your equipment. Use your next vacation Grab your gear and head out the door and walk to your bug out location using a route that keeps you off the roads. Do yourself a favor and do it during inclement weather, anyone can walk when conditions are excellent. If you really want to know if a poncho is the best wet weather gear try walking for three days in stormy weather to find out. If you really want to understand why hypothermia is so "hyped" then make that three day hike in the wilderness with no coffee shops and motels around. If you don't do this then you are kidding yourself; you don't have a bugout plan you have a "wish".

  2. Gear is important! However, skill, attitude, and experience are even more critical. Can you make a survival shelter if your tent is missing, damaged or destroyed? Can you make a fire from what ever is available? Do you know how to purify water from a questionable source? Can you tie a knot that won't slip under tension?

    If you have to "bugout" with undue haste or find yourself in a survival situation (e.g., car breaks down) you may have little more that what's in your pockets to aid you. It's important that you be able to improvise-to-survive until gear can be replaced or fabricated!