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
If your bag breaks, you’re going to be in big trouble if you can’t fix it. Pack some items that will work in an emergency – maybe duct tape, sewing kit, or zip ties, for example.
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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You need to avoid people who believe ” ALL _____ AND _____ PEOPLE ARE ROBBERS AND RAPISTS”. Have you ever seen which people go to donate BLOOD PLASMA? Many of them are not WHITE.
Has anyone heard of the GRAY MAN tactic. It involves NOT wearing distinctives clothing when you are traveling(for any reason).
My wife and I are over 80. Should we just stay home with my AR-15 and other assorted weapons or should we join the various groups that are trying to escape? (from where to where?)
Right there with you as far as age goes…no plan at all on bugging out…once your out in the field (sort of ) you have to turn your head 360 degrees constantly …where as at home you can put your back to the wall…no sense in being out there where you have no idea what is around the corner. My neighbors and myself have a plan and are sticking together.
Kieran Roberts says
My suggestion is you stay where you are for a few hours. Then the next day get a move on and leave.
If you have a place in the country, go there and stay there. Make sure that your new place is stacked to the rafters with food water and assorted things.
Illini Warrior says
in regard to #3 (Plans for Property Left Behind) >>>> part of my bug-in plans is to make contact with my neighbors that are bugging out to parts unknown – see about a “property management” agreement to look after their home, vehicles and property left behind …
if possible get keys for the home & vehicles – written legalese of the management agreement (legal right of trespass and maintenance) ….
Old Lefty says
I see the individual in the picture is pushing a grocery cart. While I am a big advocate of pushing or pulling your bugout bag as opposed to wearing it, a grocery cart is low on my list of vehicles to move my bugout supplies. The wheels are too small for rolling over obstacles and the channel the wheels run through are too narrow and clog with debris too easily. I know that a self-described bug-out expert recommends wheeling a grocery cart 150 miles in three days. That is such bad advice it should be criminal. No way are you going to make 150 miles in three days completely unloaded with somebody ferrying food and water to you. A Marine Battalion was lauded in Leatherneck Magazine for forced marching 100 miles in three days. That was an infantry battalion, not a headquarters battalion. That’s young men(this was back before women were assigned combat roles) in good physical condition with nobody possibly shooting at them, with their meals prepared and delivered to them in the field and with porta-potties along the route so that they didn’t have to find a bush to dig a hole.
If you have no other device for moving your gear, make a travois. The Indians used travois that the women and children pulled while the men stood guard on the outer edges of the tribe as it moved. Dogs also pulled travois. This was n the days before the Indians discovered that using horses to pull travois was a much better idea. Also before the Spaniards brought horses to the New World.
I can easily move 150 pounds on a travois. I can barely stand unassisted with 150 pounds on my back. I can drop the travois handles and get my battle rifle into action far quicker than I can get my rifle off my shoulder, drop my pack and be ready to repel boarders much more quickly than if I am strapped into a pack with sternum strap and waist strap and a hydro tube fastened to the sternum strap.
There are two schools of thought on looking military or looking gray man. If you are talking about individuals approaching, a gussied out military appearance might work. If you are talking about a bunch of gang bangers looking for targets, they have probably shot it out with cops, so a geared up trooper wouldn’t faze them a bit. Now if you are with a group all gussied up like a Marine rifle squad, marching in battle formation, that might give them pause but if you are soloing it, best fade into the woodwork before anyone spots you or be ready to lay down a heavy dose of lead upon immediately sighting a band of bad guys. Any group of men without any women is to be avoided at all costs. Even if the group of men are accompanied by women, probably best to avoid. And if it is a group of men dressed out like a military rifle squad, that should really be avoided at all costs.
Prepper infonet says
I like the idea of the travois. Will have to delve into that more.
those shopping carts also make a lot of noise. they are as loud as the conversation you can hear on the other side of your camp site or waterfall become exceedingly loud in the middle of the night. I don’t suggest anyone to use them unless you want to attract anyone or anything.
Several of these need rewritten.
Like #1. If you need a map and a compass to get you there you did not plan it properly. You should know the main and alternate routes by heart.
Which makes # 17 questionable.. You should be navigating by landmarks, including roads. They will probably be needed to check your location, if you are stuck using a map.
Since most people will be on the road just join a group of them.
Besides you can’t not avoid traveling on private property(#20) and also not use roads and highways in a lot of places. These two are contradictory.
#4 is basically incorrect. 20% of your body weight is fine, if you are just hiking.
Hikers are not Bugging out, they have different needs than you do.
The military carries up to 90 pounds in their packs (regardless of body weight), but I would not recommend carrying that much on your back.
However Bugging out might not leave you that 20% option. Take what you need and try to keep it as light as possible. But don’t sacrifice essentials for saving a few pounds. Just take it easy and take more breaks.
Besides who says you are Bugging out on foot?
And even if you are, there are garden carts and such (think like the homeless) to carry stuff in.
#5 is dead wrong.
You should look like you have a bug out bag, Because you will look prepared, which will indicate you are ready for attackers. Attackers like easy prey, the unprepared. Which would be those with hastily prepared bags or non bug out bags.
Which doubles for #16, Criminals avoid Cops and Authority figures. Looking like Military or in Camo (ie a hunter). which means you are skilled in killing, so they will want to avoid you.
Either you look like a Sheep Dog( ie trouble) or you look like a Sheep ( ie easy prey) to a Criminal or Attacker,( which makes them, the Wolf). If you were the Wolf, who would you go after?
So looking like Prey is a BAD idea, as is trying to be to “grey”. Besides come SHTF, probably most people bugging out will be wearing Camo. So if you are not, guess who will be most noticeable?
Most Non preppers will not Bug out or will wait, hoping things will return to ” normal” before finally decide to ” Bug out”. So the Early Bug out people will be the Prepared ones, including the Police and the Military.
Not all advise will work for everyone, so you should know your abilities and limitations. Some people who have excellent Bush craft skills might get by with a 9 lb Bug out Bag, other people might need a 50 lb one. Do what is right for you.
KIERAN Roberts says
Very wise and there is a lot of common sense there, especially with the last two paragraphs.