Preconceived Notions: “The Bugout”

When I was new to Survivalism, I believed that “The Bugout” was the only way to go. I have had a backpack ready to go since I was twelve, and the only things that have really changed were techniques of how I’d “Bugout”, and where “Bugout” it stands in the order of precedence of response. I use P.A.C.E. planning in all activities related to survival. It was something I was taught when I first went into the military, and continue to this day. “P” is primary, “A” is alternate, “C” is contingency, “E” is emergent or emergency.

Bergmann Rock

My friend Bergmann practicing what he preaches. Have you ever lived like this, even for a couple days?

Through the years, my thought on “Bugout” have evolved, simply because it makes sense to not put yourself into that type of situational risk unless all other options are denied to you. Keep in mind, a “Bugout” is not the same as a “Bug to”. A “Bugout” is when you’re headed out of your primary home with no clear home/retreat to go to. Most say “We’ll set up in the national/state forest.” These types generally have never “Set up” for an extended period (most not longer than a week, some maybe two weeks of camping at most, but it’s all good training). A “Bug To” is when you are headed to a clearly defined home or retreat that has been planned out (if someone lives there, they know you’re coming) and prepared by you ahead of time, and has supplies already laid in for your stay because it was part of the “plan”. Although “Bugout” and “Bug To” are primary residence evacuations, one (Bugout) is way too open ended to not be the last option available to you.

Let’s talk about “Bugout”, and why it should be the “E” in PACE planning. First off, how is the “Bugout” going to take place? In other words, what event will trigger your “Bugout”? Are you leaving on foot? Are you leaving by vehicle, and what is the load capacity of the vehicle (impending “Survival Vehicle” post coming up) . Are you taking a trailer? Do you have more than one vehicle (Convoy op)? Do you have a fixed location, even if it’s an area in the state forest you’ve reconned prior? How many routes have you created to get there, since one is most assuredly closed? Have you acquired detailed maps of the area? Do you already have a cache of supplies hidden there? We’ll cover some of these in order.

Bergmann Shelter

Is this what you’re planning for after the SHTF? If so, you better figure it out and stock the area. Why is Bergmann doing this? BECAUSE HE HAS A PLAN! and is implementing and prepping it before he has to, so he can  better his success in survival.

What will trigger your “Bugout”? House to house searches by feds in your town? If you wait that long, you’ll definitely need to go by foot, because vehicle traffic will be stopped through the “Cordon and Search” process. A plant accident or natural disaster (Katrina) with poisonous chemicals or severe weather headed your way? Well that’s a “no brainer” vehicle “Bugout” if there ever was one, but I’m fairly certain you won’t be headed to a state forest, right? Is it from a man made incident (riot) like what happened in “Baltimoredore” a few years ago? Once again, even though leaving on foot might have to happen if it went off the charts insane (B-More was nothing compared to what’s coming if the EBT’s go down), but more than likely it’s a vehicle escape, and you’ll be headed to another home for temporary housing (an acquaintance had to do that with his mother during that incident, that was her CVS that burned down).


I doubt you will perform a “Bugout” for an economic disaster situation. What good would that do to go to the forest because the economy collapsed. One scenario that sticks in my mind, especially due to my NBC (nuclear Biological Chemical) military background is a pandemic. Of course timing in this (like many other evacs) is crucial. Better one week early than one minute too late.  They will drop the hammer of blockade hard when they decide to do it (a good example is the movie “The Crazies”).


If you’re planning a “Bugout” after a nuke strike, you might want to do more research. If you’re still alive, but in a dangerous area (high radiation on site or in the path of impending fallout which usually goes downwind of the target, but winds aloft are tricky), you probably should shelter in place (hopefully you have a basement), because exposure outside will kill you quickly if caught in the fallout. This is one time when a “Bugout” would be a good option, considering living in the forest for a couple weeks away from the radiation zone would definitely be the optimal choice.  OK, so we’ve talked about what will set the “Bugout” plan in motion, now to the “means” of “Bugout”.


Are you planning to “Bugout” on foot? Did you read the account of the couple that was ambushed in “Patriots, Survive the Coming Collapse”? Although they were “Bugging To” a retreat, it was across the country (Chicago to Idaho), and took them forever because they lost their vehicles initially in the city. How much food can you effectively carry with your other supplies in your rucksack? I’ve found two weeks is about it, and that makes for a heavy ruck. Have you tried carrying your ruck at distance with the actual load you’ve placed in it? You know, the one sitting in the corner of your spare room?

What happens after the food runs out? Although you can extend what you’ve got with you by using game carts, you still will run out of the expendable items rather quickly. Wait, don’t tell me….you’re gonna live off the land, right? I know very few that could do this in reality (military SERE prepares you to exist and/or do without till they can recover you), and two things to note about them. One, they would never plan it as anything but a “last ditch” option. Two, they would tell you it would be existing, not living.

Jeremiah Johnson with a kill

In that day what Jeremiah Johnson did is close to the “Vehicle Bugout” option of today.


Jeremiah Johnson's Friend

Are you going to have someone “Of his good nature” to help teach you how to survive?

Wanna live like Jeremiah Johnson (watchin’ it right now to get me in the proper mindset)? If you’ll take note, first, he was assisted by Chris Lapp, and probably would have died like so many others that went to be “Mountain Men” if it hadn’t been for Lapp’s help. Are you gonna go to “Rendezvous” each spring and pick up the hundred pounds or so of supplies with your pack animals? Tell you what, ask my friend Bergmann what he thinks of that kind of never ending existence. On another note concerning the food and supplies thing. Do you have small (unable to carry their own supplies) children? Guess what? you just effectively halved your total “Per Individual” food carrying capacity.


Are you “Bugging out” by vehicle? It’s definitely the better option, but still, if you you are headed to a remote undeveloped location with no other supplies on site. You’ll get by longer, but you had better figure how to extend what you have for a long period. The good thing about a vehicle, especially if it’s of decent size, is it’s ability to carry you, at least three of your loved ones, all your personal “Bugout” gear, and some extras (a 12×12 tent with woodstove comes to mind. Oh wait, that’s right, I forgot you’re “Bugging Out” during the summer, right?). What’s the range of a tank of gas in your “Survival Vehicle”? Do you have extra fuel ( I keep enough spare TREATED gas cans for one extra tankful)?

Are you using a trailer? If so, this needs to contain the “nice to have” survival supplies, but not the absolute, survival “Necessities”, because you need to be able to ditch it in an emergency. What’s the trailer do to your vehicle’s fuel economy when you have the survival gear loaded up? Don’t know? How can you say “I have a plan” without knowing basic info about your “Survival Conveyance”, whether it’s your feet (how far, how fast, how much weight) or your vehicle (distance, capacity of personnel and equipment, etc)?

A big downside to a vehicle is being required to at least stay on passable trails, and more than likely semi improved roads. Oh, I forgot, you have a Monster that will eat up cross country and make it’s own trail, right? The upside is that it makes a “Bug out” more palatable as an option when you do the math, as compared to “bugging out” on foot.

Might a “Bugout” be necessary? Yes. Should you plan on it being anything but the last ditch option? No. The figures just don’t add up to success and long term survival. When it comes to PACE for me, I organize this way. PRIMARY: “Bug In” at my home with all the supplies I’ve prepared over the years. ALTERNATE: “Bug To”, and am headed to a property that has prepositioned supplies and family, and I’m taking my vehicle and trailer. CONTINGENCY: Longer route “Bug To” same as above, but to property of friends, and using two vehicles (convoy op) for security. EXIGENT/EMERGENCY 1: “Bug Out” to a secure, private, semi improved property site with vehicle. EXIGENT/EMERGENCY 2: “Bugout” on foot to a State forest within 10 miles of home (some prepositioned supplies, with an alternate site another 5 miles away.


Some of Ragnar Benson’s books

I read a lot of Ragnar Benson’s (among others) stuff when I was a kid. Some of it was BS, and some had some real pearls of wisdom in it (like a lot of survivalist/survivalism books). One of the most important things I ever gleaned from his writing is something to keep in mind when planning any of your options. NEVER BECOME A REFUGEE! In most instances ( a few are not) primarily planning to “Bugout” without weighing and prioritizing other options first is planning to be a refugee, whether you like it or not. Read some of what Selco has to say, or better yet, look at the refugees walking across Europe and tell me that is something you consider as a viable option if others are available.

What’s the bottom line? If you have no options to “Bug To” after your “Bug In” option is expended, by all means plan a “Bugout”. Hopefully it will be with a vehicle, but if not, go to my buddy Bergmann’s Youtube page and get some advice on planning and prepositioning for your eventual “Bugout” operation implementation. Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance (7P’s), right? Being a Survivalist has been a rewarding, but at times daunting, task throughout my life from a youngster till now. In the end though, it’s more about those we care about than what it does for us that’s important. That’s why realistic assessments of the facts, not fantasy, is crucial to your survival.



American by BIRTH Infidel by CHOICE



24 thoughts on “Preconceived Notions: “The Bugout”

  1. For most ppl planning stops when they get home-pack their new ruck and toss it in the corner. I dont get it. They make excuses about family and other things keeping them from planning, training and preparing. Its just that, an excuse. Everyone should be able to get out either 2 single days a month or one weekends. Excuses wont help and they dont pay the note when you’re caught by marauders and they want everything you have and so they start to the raping of your wife and kids… and maybe you too..

  2. To me, knowing when to Bug Out or Bug To is the key to any of this. If you have read any of Selco’s accounts, people were mostly optimistic even in a degrading situation until the gravity of it bit them in the ass and could not Bug Out but were forced to Bug In.

    The crisis now happening in Europe with the fine folks from Syria (and who knows where else) bugging out and to, may be a good study on what not to do. Whether they had gotten a heads up about the Ruskies coming and the continuing war with different puppetmasters or just had enough, they chose to migrate enmasse. When and how did thousands of people decide to flee and what were they told was waiting for them? Orchestrated or not, they Bugged To and it ain’t pretty.

  3. Ivar,while I agree you have wife/kids or other dependants you need to include them in preparing also,perhaps make it a hiking/camping trip,perhaps with others you trust.You tough as nails but others with you are not you need to carry all the weight,could be done but tough.I am single/no kids by choice and can see the gods laughing at me and sticking me with orphans,that happens will do the best I can but will be looking immediately for more suitable caregivers,easier said then done.You have a group need to work as a group while relatively easy/stress free to a degree,best of luck to all.

    • When you have a wife and kids you should be training harder then me. Especially if you cannot get them on board with you. A Survivalist is either in this, or they are not. There is no half way. Its not a hobby.

  4. I had a moment of “Hey, I know that guy” when I got to Bergmann’s picture, lol. Good read, though. Refreshed a few things in my mind and gave me some considerations I hadn’t thought of previously.

  5. A few days ago I put together my first proper bug out bag since I left the army, (in those days it was SOP to have your ruck packed and ready to go and the army tested us frequently with emergency crash out drills, I was based in Germany in the 80s at the height of the cold war and we expected the Russians to come across the border at any time) and even though it was a very basic kit, sensible selection of clothing, waterproofs, some basic tools,3 days worth of food and water, cooking and eating kit,sleeping bag and poncho/tarp it still came to 50lbs in weight and when I took it out for a test hike,just 4 miles on the roads around my house I was reminded just how hard it is to tab long distances carrying heavy loads and I`m 50 years old now, could I really carry it for 50 or 60 miles in a true SHTF stressful as fuck situation? for me I think I`ll be bugging in as long as possible until there is absolutely no other choice but to bug out.

    • I think for most ppl staying put is the best ting to do no matter what your age is.. I wouldn’t gauge your results on one trip after so many years of inaction. Testing and observation will deliver results you can improve and build on. One trip around the town will just make you tired and hate it if you are not use to it. It gets easier. I encourage you to keep at it.

  6. I`ll revise the contents with an eye to better and lighter gear, eg I used canned foods, they`ll have to be changed for freeze dried,its surprising how much extra weight they added and the amount of bottled water might have to be reduced and I`ll invest in a good water purifying kit. But I will keep at it, I just cant shake off the feeling that something bad is coming and I better be ready for it.

  7. Pingback: MDT: Preconceived Notions – The “Bugout” | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  8. I love the idea of a wheeled device. After 50 years of backpacking I can carry little but I can pull a lot . I purchased a wheeled sturdy garbage bin . I replaced the plastic tires for rubber pneumatic tires . I made Rik shaw type handles and now I can pull about 150 pounds with little effort . This works well for my wife and myself and our grandchild that at age three could ride on top.

  9. Try rucking now. I have tried road marches, with a small ruck, and with a big ruck, and I’m now trying like hell to lighten my bugout load, find open water I can dip into and purify on my 100 mile bugout route, and places I can hide to sleep/place caches. My feet hate rucking. You need really good shoes/boots with cushy/support inserts and a lot of socks and stuff to bandage your feet with. You need to have these shoes on your feet or close at hand in case you have to run. You might have to flee and not stop for miles in the shoes on your feet. You might have to grab one thing or small set of things and run for your life. Of course this is not plan A but I wanted to know how good I’d be at it. An urban environment means you can’t dress in all camo and have your rifle hanging out for all to see, it’s better to dress normal. But yet you need to be able to hide in the bushes to sleep eventually.

    I’ve concluded that I should have a bicycle available if at all possible for an urban exfil. I’ll get farther faster and can slip around traffic jams etc, and it’s easier on my poor feet. I can get 15 miles on a bike before I am dying from leg cramps as opposed to 5 miles on foot before my feet are killing me. And the leg cramps are a matter of conditioning whereas plantar fasciitis is a bitch that doesn’t go away. I can walk 10 miles but I won’t be walking tomorrow if I do that. And I can’t carry 10-20 days worth of food to get me 100 miles, let alone the water. Plus the first 20 miles are all urban, I’d rather be through it in one day than 3 or 4 during a SHTF event.

    Anyone thinking they can just throw on a ruck and walk 20-30 miles a day without working up to it is in la la land. They might get 2 miles and be done. Pavement sucks, debris laden woodland and having to traverse streams and gulleys sucks in a totally different way. Last night nav march I did with friends we went 2.5 miles in 6 hours, and sounded like a herd of elephants. We expected to go 5 miles in 2 hours. Ha! And that was going extremely light, no rucks. Just try it, and KNOW what your capabilities are ahead of time so you don’t make deadly assumptions under stress doing something for the first time.

    • “Just try it, and KNOW what your capabilities are ahead of time so you don’t make deadly assumptions under stress doing something for the first time.” Well said and one of the primary points tha a lot of people don’t get.

      • Thankfully I have. I walk everywhere. My attitude is: if it’s less than two miles (one way) why drive? Bicycle I’m good for 50 miles easy. Can do a 2000 foot climb in an hour. I’m almost 50, but I eat a whole foods diet, and exercise every day, even if it’s moving on the job. So many people are obese biscuit butts these days. I really need to improve my contingency property, a lot of which involves contacts in the area.

  10. One parallel point is try to move where the likelihood of having to Bug out/to is less, and the distance to safety is shorter. I’m in a small town in Wyoming where they have all the niceties. Game and edible plants are a walk, but better forests are a bit farther. Anything can happen, but it is unlikely the grid will be down for any length of time, the UN will invade, or ISIS will do something nasty (as well as the general gun culture discouraging anyone from trying such, and quickly making it expensive or fatal if they are foolish). Going Galt is half of the Bug out/to.

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