Top 10 Tips For Bugging Out When The SHTF!


Top 10 Tips For Bugging Out When The SHTF!

Bugging out means ‘to make a hasty exit’ or simply to escape as fast as possible from a hostile situation.

Usually, the term is used in reference to getting away from the enemy in times of war. However, you might also need to bug out in order to avert natural disasters, home invasions and other calamities.

Here are our top 10 tips for bugging out – because we live in an unpredictable world.

1) Avoid unnecessary junk; carry only what you really need.

It is common to come across bug out bag lists that include 75 or 100 items. Now ask yourself – Can you run or even walk for several miles while carrying a hundred pound backpack?

Are you being realistic?

A bug out bag is supposed to be as light as possible. It must include only bare survival essentials.

Still not convinced? Try this out:

  1. Put some heavy weights (dumbbells, cement bags etc.) in a backpack and try walking around on the street.
  2. How far can you make it?
  3. Can you sprint with the backpack on?
  4. Try climbing stairs, jumping over walls and other obstacles.
  5. Walk up a couple of hills.

Chances are, unless you’re military trained and used to these kinds of activities with 80-100 lbs in your bag – you won’t make it to the next block, yet alone further as an SHTF situation might dictate.  A heavy backpack will slow you down; it will use up too much energy and leave you dehydrated. Keep it light.


2) One bug out bag is not enough!

Yes, you read that right. You simply cannot predict where you’re going to be when the shit hits the fan. You might not even be able to make it home. You might have to escape right away. This is why you must prepare more than one bug out bag.

Try to think of the places where you spend most of your time away from home. For most people – it’s their workplace. Hence, it’s a great idea to place one bug out bag under your desk or in your office locker. You can also have one in your car. In times of emergency, the spare backpack can be used by friends or loved ones.
3) Create a bugging out plan:

Have you played games like GTA5 or Need For Speed? Well, you may noticed that the main character has safe houses at several different locations. He/She enters these locations to lie low and lose ‘the heat’.

Well, where is your safe house and how do you plan to get there? Without a plan, you’re pretty much screwed. Very people can think clearly in testing times. The only way to ensure your safety is to plan and test one or several bugging out strategies beforehand.

Here are a few more things to consider:

  • Do you have a secret log cabin or hut deep in the woods?
  • How long can you survive there?
  • Do you have a stash of food and supplies locked away someplace?
  • Do you have a survival community to fall back upon or do you plan to bug out all alone?

Take all these factors into account while preparing your plan.
4) Keep your fuel tank full at all times:

My Step-Dad taught me this trick years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  The fuel gauge of your car has a halfway marker. From now on, treat is as the empty marker. Fuel up every time the indicator is halfway between full and empty!

You never know when you might have to make a run for it. There of course is no guarantee that you’ll be able to use your car for bugging out. Still, you do not want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere if your car runs out of fuel. Also, pumps might become too crowded and run out of gas in emergency situations.
5) Stay fit:

You cannot bug out effectively if you’re out of shape. Eat right and work out – I’m not saying you need to become a body builder, but try to become at least moderately fit. Do not fall prey to all this B.S. about fat acceptance!

The number one preventable cause of death in the US is not war or drugs – it is obesity. Saying yes to fat means saying yes to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, low self-esteem and so on.

Also, don’t mistake skinny for fit. If you can’t do 8 to 10 pull ups with perfect form, do not call yourself fit.

If you are serious about prepping, start working out today. You don’t need to buy expensive gym memberships – you can simply focus on cardio, home workouts and calisthenics (body weight exercises such as pull ups, push ups, dips) and still get phenomenal results. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the p90x3 home workout program – it’s a bit extreme, but that’s what the “X” stands for after all.


6) Pack heavy stuff close to your back:

This makes the load easier to carry. Do you remember the concept of fulcrum from middle school? Well, the farther the load is from your spine, the more pressure it exerts on your vertebrae. A sore back is about the last thing you want when bugging out. Also, pack according to frequency of use. The things that you need often should be at the top. Doing this saves you precious time.


7) Keep your backpack ready for use at all times:

Almost all preppers take their bug out bags with them on camping/hiking/road trips. Upon returning, they empty the contents of their bag for cleaning or replacing. The contents lie strewn over all over the garage till the next camping trip. You won’t have time to pack in a survival scenario and you might miss out some life-saving items such as water filtration tablets, first aid kit etc. The whole point of a bug out bag is to avoid packing!


8) Avoid highways and other obvious escape routes:

You might be tempted to floor your car and get onto the freeway. However, the enemy might have set up checkpoints at key junctions. Let’s say you’re NOT encountering a war situation; but rather you are fleeing from a tsunami or some other natural disaster. In both scenarios – your chances of making it out in time are pretty slim if you use obvious routes, since these roads are likely to be in gridlock! You have be resourceful in such times and be ready to go off road. Often, you can travel further on foot than in a vehicle (This is where being fit becomes critical).

9) Your actions should align with your objectives:

If you want to avoid detection, then you must refrain from using flashlights and fires. Even a burning cigarette can be spotted from half a mile away in the dark. You should build Dakota style fire pits are try to erase all traces of your presence when you leave a campsite. However, if you are stranded and you want to be found – you must build fires, make SOS signs on the ground, you should whistle, shoot flares in the air. You get the idea.

Here’s a video that better explains the Dakota Fire Pit.


10) Try to blend in.

Don’t draw unwanted attention towards you. If people figure out that you’re more prepared than them, they might try to take your equipment and supplies from you. Keep your mouth shut and focus on getting your family to safety. Keep your firearm ready and move in groups to avoid being perceived as an easy target.

Acquire the survival skills that are required to bug out efficiently. More skills mean that you can do with less equipment. In a survival scenario, you cannot afford to rely solely upon the government for help. Your skills are you most vital asset. Your skills will keep you alive. Practice bugging out with family and friends. It is a much more satisfying experience than your typical movie and restaurant night!

J.D. Phillips
J.D. Phillips Runs and is a contributer to and lives with his family in Southern California.

When he's not online, he's usually found hiking or in the gym!