Bugging out for survival
What is bugging out?
Bugging out is a term used to describe the process of escaping and surviving a collapse of everyday modern civilisation. Such an event warrants a level of preparation including drills and equipment that will allow you to respond successfully to such circumstances. Bugging out for survival is the transition from modern infrastructure to the wild environment for survival.
This means bugging out typically requires moving only items vital for survival from towns to the countryside.
For individuals or ‘preppers’ with greater levels of preparation bugging out can be the journey from existing housing to a pre-prepared base camp. In a bugging out scenario all human beings outside of your immediate circles would be treated as enemies due to limited resources.
Why would you need to bug out anyway?
Modern populations especially living within developed nations have enjoyed a relatively sheltered existence since the Second World War. An extended duration of calm staged by a rise in living standards and personal wealth has created a safe bubble for us. Day to day survival tasks such as knowing how to gather food and water is simply not on our radar.
Modern technology and the capitalist system have allowed such basic survival knowledge to become redundant. As the world becomes more advanced with ever complicated supply chains and economic connectivity things could go wrong easily. Very easily! If the economic crash of 2008 showed us anything it was we are completely capable of sleepwalking into disaster.
So interconnected is our physical and digital infrastructure that the whole system could collapse just like a stack of cards. A simple event such as the hijacking of digital services could result in devastating collapses in essential services. Water supplies would run dry, food would run out and electricity would cease.
One of the biggest problems with these very possible scenarios is people would turn on each other for resources. In a collapse scenario urban environments would be the worst places to be with looting gangs, disease, and no natural resources. In the event of a collapse the best chance of survival would be within rural and wild environments. But what kinds of scenarios would make such a nightmare become reality.
Even since the great world wars conflict has persisted throughout the globe and we are never far from global conflict once again. As history has taught us a simple series of provocative events can lead to an escalation of war very quickly. It is true that nuclear weapons have allowed us a relative stalemate between powerful nations. At the same time such weapons also make our very existence destructible at the press of a button. As the world becomes more populated and natural resources become ever scarce the likelihood of war increases.
In the past couple of decades we have witnessed a dramatic increase in terrorism. With radical groups and extreme ideologies on the increase the chances of dramatic attacks are likely. We are used to seeing terrorists using car bombs and fire arms but they have various means of causing terror. The aftermath of 9/11 showed us that with some organisation terrorism can lead to catastrophic devastation. Multiple explosive attacks combined with biological and chemical weapons could cause a collapse in vital infrastructure.
More and more of our vital services and supply chains are controlled by digital technology. The internet has become our main method of communication around the globe. Instant messages, banking and government top secret information can now be hacked into and stolen. So interdependent are our digital services and economic systems that a cyber attack could be devastating. Such an attack could destroy our whole economy vital services such as water and electricity would cease. Cyber attack is such a serious concern of national security that most militaries have specific forces allocated to cyber defence.
A financial collapse is always a possibility judging by our past track record in avoiding economic crashes. There has never been a time in history when advanced economies rely so heavily on debt. One we go past the threshold of the likelihood of debts being repaid then economies cease to function. Sequential governments leave debts to be paid by following generations leading to a build up of economic vacuum. Since the global crash of 2008 debts have continued to rise and spiral out of control. Another economic crash could see the unwinding of modern society as we know it leading to a catastrophic collapse and public disorder.
Oil depletion is a much underrated threat to our current civilisation. One of the main reasons for this the expected evolution of renewable technologies to take over from oil. The problem is it is not just transportation and electricity which we currently rely on oil for. It amazes most people to discover that crops grown from mechanised agriculture is completely reliable on synthetic fertilisers.
These are solely created from oil. Once oil runs out we will not have the correct levels of natural fertility to support our populations. The rate at which oil is running out has been significantly played down over the past decades.
Many scientists believe we are now past peak production as demand ever increases. At the moment the general theory is we have about 50 years worth of oil left. Oil depletion will almost certainly lead to the collapse of civilisation.
Climate change has become a very topical subject in recent years. This generally is in response to numerous scientific indicators we are warming the planet. It seems almost common sense that excessive, global industry is both polluting and warming the atmosphere. This however has been disputed by some and many argue there is on the whole global cooling.
Developing expensive, renewable technologies are not always good for corporate industry so there is usually a conflict of interest. One thing however is for certain! The climate has always changed and will change again whether we cause it or not. Recent climatic change has already led to desertification, failing crops, droughts and forest fires. Just one year of dramatic climate change could lead to a collapse in global systems.
A global reduction in biodiversity is a sad result of human expansion across the planet. One of the largest contributors to biodiversity destruction has been deforestation. It is believed that the accelerated rate of tropical deforestation is making some species extinct before they are even discovered by science. The ecological imbalance caused by biodiversity loss could lead to a collapse to all life on earth. Many believe we are now at a tipping point! Some scientists now theorise biodiversity loss will also lead to a collapse in human civilisation.
Never in history have there been so many people living on planet Earth. With the global population set to soon reach 9 billion we have to ask when will we reach braking point? Most modern humans already live way beyond the sustainability of their own ecological foot print. It has been theorised that all it would take is a failure of 10 percent of the worlds harvest to cause problems. A complete melt down of capitalist economies could result from such an increasingly likely event.
Disease has always had the natural ability to both control and devastate human populations. With medical advances within the past 150 years vaccinations and penicillin has allowed human populations to explode. With the accelerated rate viral and bacterial organisms breed and mutate these are beginning to evolve around our defences. It is only a matter of time before a large pandemic hits again reducing our population dramatically. This could lead to a sudden collapse in the systems which support modern civilisation.
There are numerous reasons why social unrest can lead to a widespread break down in law and order. With living standards in developed nations slowly beginning to decline with political extremism on the rise the future could be turbulent. The rise of the internet has allowed greater connectivity and organisation between disruptive groups.
Informational brainwashing has become an effective tool for causing social disruption. Social unrest is certainly on the rise across the planet. Younger people are becoming increasingly frustrated! Laden with debt and unable to achieve basic benchmarks such as home ownership the future looks disruptive. Mass social unrest could lead to a crash subsequently requiring you to bug out to survive.
It is not really a matter of if a collapse happens it is more a matter of when. The only real option you have is to get organised now. Government media organisations do a very good job of trying to prevent panic. The problem with this is you don’t really know what is happening until it is too late. Shops are already stripped of supplies and the ques outside fuel stations are already a mile long. No matter if you believe a collapse will happen or not you should always have plans just in case.
The reality is when collapse happens the worst possible place to be is in major population centres. Here water supplies and electricity will be cut off leading to mass panic. Looting gangs will patrol the streets stealing and even killing for food and water. If you live in the city your priority should be to get out and seek refuge in a rural location. The most dangerous thing during a collapse is other people especially after a week when they are desperate. The reality is you will need to carry the very basics with you for survival.
Bug out bag
The most important thing to realise during a collapse is there is no more services to call upon when you need commodities. Food, water, and fuel will have to be gathered even if you have stockpiled eventually. Other than perhaps that full tank of fuel in your car from now on you are on your own. It is important to consider therefore that everything you need for survival should be able to be carried on your back.
This is why a well organised pre-crisis bug out bag is essential. An effective bug out bag should allow you maximum, effective equipment while being weight effective. The more weight you have to carry the less far you can travel depending on your fitness level. Do not forget that the most essential necessity, water weights the most at 1kg per litre. Your bug out bag contents should also be efficient for space with everything packing neatly down and to be easily accessible.
An effective bug out bag will contain shelter, a means of boiling water, medical supplies, sleeping bag, food and spare clothing. We link to our article on wild camping equipment which lists the major considerations and contents of a bug out bag here.
Cooking will be essential if you are to cook up meals without the risk of becoming ill. One the most basic ways you can achieve this is to purchase a stove. Bear in mind gas will run out so go for something resourceful like a small, foldable stick burning stove. These are currently available from Amazon here. When you become more established in a location fire could be used for cooking larger meals.
A portable foldable grill is useful here for suspending raw meat or pots above the coals. Remember the most essential element here is the ability to make fire. For this you will need at least a fire steel or eventually learn how to make fire with a bow drill. The reality is mastering this ancient skill will determine if you are one of the 0.03 percent of people who survive a collapse.
Whether you have access to drinkable water will largely be the difference between life and death. Long gone are the days of accessing water from deeply dug wells. Ultimately you will have to end up with a safe, off grid method of obtaining fresh water. The majority of naturally occurring fresh water is from upland areas so being in these locations is a great advantage. Water from lower levels is ok as long as it is not contaminated with chemicals, pollution or sewage. A well is a good method but as a precautionary measure all water should be boiled.
In the initial period soon after collapse having access to stored water will be a luxury. Remember 90 percent of urban people will die within the first three weeks mainly due to dehydration. You should aim to store a gallon of water per person per day. In a secure base camp location with space this could give you enough to outlive most of the population. In the end you will have to have your own source of collectable water from the landscape to survive.
Most of the time unless you are seriously prepared you will have to except supplies will only keep you going for so long. In my opinion if you can store enough batteries, food and clothing for 2 months you are onto a winner. As long as you have self sustaining systems to move onto after that you have a great chance of survival. You can purchase dehydrated or military rations however these do have a shelf life. The best thing to have is dehydrated high carbohydrate, high protein food like dried beans and lentils. Flour and rice are also good with these foods lasting many years as long as they are kept dry. Most humans can last at least a month without food.
Have a plan
It is at the very least important to have a serious think about how you would survive in the event of a collapse. Where would you go? What is the future going to be like for you if you survive? How will you feed yourself? If you personally think life would not be worth living and you would rather perish think again.
Some moments in history such as earthquakes and natural disasters have been temporary. Even though a region can be cut off from the grid for weeks thousands of people can perish. We should all be prepared for even just a couple of weeks! It is irresponsible as a human being to assume your tap will always run and the store will always be full.
The bug out base camp
In the end if you are really serious about surviving the long term you will need to organise a rural place to live where you can farm and hunt. By doing this you have somewhere you can go when SHTF. The best option is to choose a self sufficient life off the grid from day one but we know this is not practical for everyone. If you are forced to walk out on foot remember initially the more hidden your location is the better. A make shift base camp should be defensive and have adequate supplies. Access to fresh water and the potential to develop your base camp further are of great importance.
Being a leader
In times of collapse not knowing what the future holds will cause stress and sometimes panic. It is important to remain calm being positive and optimistic to those around you. At the end of the day man survived thousands of years without supermarkets and electricity. You do not have to go to work, pay bills all you need to do is survive! With a positive outlook you can inspire others around you to get through hard times and rebuild a new way of life.
Getting mentally prepared for the collapse is easier said than done. The realisation that life as you previously knew it has completely ceased can be hard to digest. The realisation however that collapse had to happen eventually can allow the mind to seek meaning. Getting as close as possible to the survival end game really is key to coping with these situations.
Knowing you are set up and prepared for survival is half the mental battle won. Experiencing wilderness survival and familiarising yourself with wild camping can mentally prepare you for bugging out. Having a goal or a belief you will reach a stable, happy life even better than before can keep you enthusiastic about life.
Keeping yourself in peak physical condition is not just good for your health it can also be crucial to surviving collapse. One thing that will hit most people in this situation is just how physical everything will become. The most important thing to realise is you will have to be fit enough to move vital equipment around with you. Being robust enough to move distance efficiently ensures you can stay out of danger and search for resources.
Being out of shape can mean you actually become a burden on the people around you. Peak physical conditioning can be reached both by strength, resistance and cardiovascular training. A consistent six month training program is usually enough to dramatically change someone’s physiology.
Remember you will no longer be living in a world of human contentment. At certain points when bugging out you may encounter hostility from gangs of thugs who want your resources. Knowing basic self defence and being in good physical condition will be extremely important. In potential conflict situations you have to show you intent to fight to the death.
Think like a predator and being armed is a great advantage! Most people will not be prepared enough to carry weapons so you will have the edge. This will also give you the option of hunting animals.
If you have an immediate family which are not as prepared then it is up to you to make provision! Having a full tank of fuel ready and a secret place to escape with supplies could be your only option. Try to explain to your family what you should do in the event of such a crisis. Try to do drills so everyone is prepared to respond at a moment’s notice.
Children especially very young children will make life a little more complicated when escaping the ruins of civilisation. Remember in the long run children will be your only insurance policy in life for when you get older. People with young children are also less likely to encounter as much aggression but do not count on it. If you have young children you should plan even more meticulously how you will survive infrastructural catastrophes.
Whether a collapse of civilisation is a localised event or last indefinitely you are going to need to know basic survival. Provisions and supplies will only last for so long and at some point you will have to turn to the natural world for food. Skills such as finding water, making shelter, creating fire, hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging will all become essential for your survival.
A homestead for life
Bugging out for survival is essential to get you clear of the mayhem and carnage a collapse would cause. The first three weeks of a crisis would be the most important for survival. The following months will be a test to see if you can convert living off stored resources to ones provided by the environment. Most people cannot live day to day completely ready for a collapse which may not hit in their lifetime. This is why having the correct bug out kit and strategy is essential.
The Irony of the situation is some people in the modern world will be pretty much unaffected by a collapse. People who live on remote, self sufficient homesteads will survive with no problem. Unless they are close to urban populations with potential looting this lifestyle will guarantee security. If you have the financial situation which enables a second home good but most will not this option. As well as survival and hunting skills try to learn about small scale self sufficient farming. Skills like breeding chickens, raising fish, growing crops and storing food in the end will be the only way to live long term!
Remember land ownership would dissolve in a crisis situation! After the first initial two months most of the population would be gone. Rural people will eventually need others to build communities and tribal protection. If you and your family are successful at living off the land in time you will be able to build your own homestead. Your knowledge and abilities of producing food will become your new fortune in the new world of self reliance. Basic food production and construction skills will be highly valued in the new, local economy. It is essential you learn these as well as well as survival skills before the collapse.
There are many helpful books and resources on subjects like homesteading I have placed one useful book link below click the image to buy it on Amazon.
Whichever way you bug out for survival remember to make the process actually successful you will need an end game. What will your life now be about? What will you do day to day? The ultimate situation is to live in a location with abundant crops and a healthy environment for hunting. Forestry can create a readily available source of fuel with hunting and foraging opportunities.
Many medieval farmers would rely on a system of coppicing woodland for fuel. This involves cutting trees down to the base encouraging multiple ground branches. These can be cut easily on a four year rotation providing long, thin material for building and fencing. These pole like branches burn hotter than large logs making them perfect for heating water and buildings. These can also be baked into charcoal for extra slow burning and maximum heat.
The dense, thick vegetation of forestry coppice also encourages browsing animals such as deer perfect for hunting. It can also make your bug out base camp or homestead well hidden.
As well as hunting, fishing, and agriculture forestry can provide you extra useful resources for day to day life. Successful bugging out for survival in my opinion also includes such long term planning. This may mean stashing useful commodities like axes and saws for future use.
Bugging out for survival and prepping may be looked upon by some as an activity carried out by paranoid eccentrics. The truth is people who plan for such events show a greater understanding of the world. Your ability to transition from surviving on modern infrastructure to sustainable methods solely relies on preparation and knowledge. Sadly the majority of people will perish in the most horrific and inhumane circumstances.
Unfortunately this scenario is quite likely you and your family depends on your ability to effectively bug out for survival.
Initially the future will be tough and challenging however in the long run it will be fulfilling. If you have prepared correctly you will have an abundant life free from the aggressive economies of the past. You could live in a wilder world where days involve family fishing, hunting, farming and serving the local community. It actually sounds like a huge improvement to me!
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