Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Every prepper needs a bug out plan. You never know when the unthinkable might happen and you have to leave quickly and quietly. But mistakes made when bugging out can be lethal or leave you struggling to arrive at your destination.
Be prepared for the worst with these 30 things not to do when you bug out.
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1. Leaving Without A Plan
If you head out into the woods without a plan, you’ll likely get lost and never reach your destination. You need to know where you are going, how long it will take you to get there, and how to get there. You probably need a map and a compass, too.
You’ll also need to know what happens when you reach your destination – do you have a bug-out location already set up? Or are you going to find one along your journey?
2. Leaving Without Plans For The People Or Pets Left Behind
If you’re bugging out by yourself, who are you leaving behind? What will they do in your absence? Do they have food, water, shelter? Or will they be leaving as well? If people depend on you for their daily existence, they’ll depend on you in emergencies, too.
3. Leaving Without Making A Plan For The Property You Leave Behind
In a severe bug out situation, you might not ever be able to return to your home. Is there anything you need to do to tie up loose ends before you go? On the other hand, is there anything you should do if you plan to return in a few weeks or months? You may want to shut off water, gas lines, and other utilities to keep the property safe if you do return.
4. Carrying More Than 20% Of Your Body Weight
Hikers on the Appalachian Trail were studied carrying too little, too much, and just the right amount of weight in their packs. Those hikers that carried more than 20% of their body weight were far more likely to sustain injury and not complete their hike. Be smart and pack light.
5. Using A Bug Out Bag That Shows You’re Using a Bug Out Bag
Stealth is important when bugging out. If people think you’ve got bug out supplies, you’re a prime target. Choose a pack that blends into your situation and isn’t too obtrusive.
6. Packing Too Much Unnecessary Stuff
Cutesy bug out items might be…well, cute. But are they beneficial? Only pack what is necessary and leave the kitchen sink at home. Remember, the goal is to reach your destination safely, so you’ll have to leave some things behind.
Don’t pack your favorite cast iron skillet, a bulky or heavy sleeping bag, canned foods, or other things that just waste space and weight. Only pack what matters.
7. Wearing A Pack That Doesn’t Fit You Properly
Your bag should have a belt strap that focuses the weight onto your hips, not your back. If your bag doesn’t fit right, the wrong muscles will bear the brunt of your pack and wear you out, possibly causing injury.
8. Not Packing Enough Food
You’re going to need to eat on your journey, so make sure you pack enough food. You probably should have 3 to 4 days worth of food in your bag, and you’ll need more calories than you typically do because you’ll be expending additional energy.
9. Not Packing Essential Papers And Documents
You may not be able to return to your home, so make sure you have your important documents with you such as your license, Conceal Carry Permit if needed, Social Security Number, and birth certificate.
10. Not Packing Something To Fix Your Bug Out Bag If It Breaks
11. Not Packing Medical Supplies
Injuries happen, and you need to be prepared. You’ll especially want some bandages, blister protection, and help for stomach problems.
12. Not Packing Water
Water is the most important thing you need. Pack some water with you in case you can’t find any, but you’ll also want to bring along a filter or LifeStraw if you do find a water source. You can’t carry four days of water. It’s just too heavy.
13. Not Testing Your Gear Ahead Of Time
You need to make sure your BOB and all your equipment are in good working order. Make sure to try everything you will carry because a broken lighter probably won’t start a fire when you need it most. Make sure your pack fits and is easy to carry.
14. Not Packing Extra Socks
Keep your feet warm and dry and bring extra socks along.
15. Not Being Prepared For The Weather
You may need to adjust the clothing you wear when bug out. Weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you are properly prepared for rain or cold to prevent frostbite, hypothermia, or heat stroke.
16. Not Packing Sharp Edges And Liquids Correctly
A poorly packed knife can ruin your bag or cause you injury. Liquids that spill in your bag can destroy essential medications or other necessities.
17. Following Main Roads And Highways
Stay off the beaten path and stay out of sight, so you aren’t taken advantage of or injured by people looking for supplies.
18. Looking Military Or Wearing Camo
Wearing tactical clothing, military vests, or camouflage is a dead giveaway that you’re bugging out or you’re not where you are supposed to be. The idea is to blend in, not be camouflaged in.
19. Telling People Where You’re Going
If the wrong people know where you are going, they may make a beeline for your bug out location, steal your supplies, or lock you out. Keep quiet about who you are and what your plans are.
20. Walking Across Private Property
If you are heading for the hills, avoid private property where people can shoot first and ask questions later.
21. Packing A Noisy Bag
Remember, you’re supposed to be in stealth mode. A loud pack will alert people to your presence, so silence any noisy things inside your pack.
22. Carrying A Bag That Isn’t Waterproof
Rain can quickly damage your BOB contents, so make sure your pack is as waterproof as possible. If you can’t make it waterproof, consider carrying a dry bag inside for things you need to stay dry. A wet pack is a heavy pack.
23. Not Planning For Bio Stops
Make sure your clothing is easy to remove and replace when you need a quick bio break and be sure to have something for hygiene and bury your excrement.
24. Not Packing Shelter
A tent may be too heavy in your pack, but you should have some sort of shelter such as a lightweight tarp or bivy bag to protect you at night.
25. Not Packing Prescription Meds
If you take life-saving medication, be sure to take it with you, or you won’t survive the trip.
26. Not Planning For Pets
If you’re bringing along a pet, they’ll need food, water, and shelter just like you. A dog can be helpful, but it also can be noisy.
27. Not Knowing What’s In Your Bag
You’re taking significant risks if you don’t know what is in your BOB and if it still works. Do regular checkups on your equipment.
28. Not Having A Bag For Your Kids
If you’ve got a family, you’ll need to plan for them, too. Kids can carry some items in their packs but be sure not to weigh them down, or you’ll be carrying them and their bag.
29. Storing Your Bug Out Bag Where You Can’t Get To It Quickly
If you can’t reach your bug out bag quickly and easily, it won’t be usable when you need it in a hurry. Keep it hidden but handy.
30. Not Packing Money
You might need some cold hard cash along your trip, so make sure you have some in your bag.
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