Bugging out is (mostly) bullshit

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Bugging-Out (prepping): Grabbing a specially packed bug-out bag and quickly leaving a disaster zone.

I am not willing to take an absolute stance on anything, however I think that in 99% of situations bugging-out is your absolute worst choice.  Much of the prepping community agrees with me on this, but I still see constant chatter about the perfect bug-out-bag and plan.  It is yet another case where people skip the basics and go straight to the solution for 1% of emergencies, leaving the other 99% ignored.

In this post I am going to walk you through why I think bugging out is bullshit, why it remains so popular, and when are the very few exceptions where it might be useful.

Why is it bullshit

At a basic level when you bug-out you are walking away from resources.  For me this is the largest argument against bugging-out.  You simply cannot take everything with you.  If you have been storing up food and water or have a good set of tools you won’t be able to bring it all.  With less tools and resources you make yourself less capable of handling a range of situations.

Wilderness bugout plans are laughable. Nature WILL kill you. Click To Tweet

Wilderness bugout plans in particular are extremely questionable.  People die due to exposure on a regular basis, and what you can carry is likely not going to prepare you for all situations.  This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of experience being outdoors or in the wilderness.  If your “wilderness experience” is going camping once or twice a year, to places with bathrooms, and running water, you will quickly find out to your detriment how different real wilderness living can be.  In Canada at least part of this danger is the seasons.  I don’t want to be outside for 10 minutes at -25C, never mind trying to survive there.  I also don’t want to be outside at all when mosquitoes and black-flies are thriving.  Simply said nature does not care if you survive.

Many people even think that they can bug-out without a destination, living the simple romantic life of a vagabond on the road.  Let’s do a little reality check here.  Every time you go somewhere new, you are exposing yourself to new opportunities for dangerous situations.  For example there are very few places these days that do not have some resident population.   Are you certain they will welcome you?  If resources are scarce and they think you will tax them further, do you think they will simply open their doors to you?  If things have gone really bad, will you know about the chemical plant down the road or the nuclear reactor just over the hill?  Exposing yourself to unknown dangers is not what you want to be doing in an emergency!

Why is it popular

So we all know bugging out is dangerous in many different ways but why is it so popular?  I think there are three reasons.  The first is that the idea of bugging out and leaving it all behind is a romantic one.  People don’t understand the real struggles with living on the road, or in the wilderness.  They underestimate the tolls that this will take on them.  The second is that preparing a bug-out bag is a “shortcut” to being prepared.  It isn’t.  You need to put in real hard work and effort to make yourself prepared,  it’s not as easy as buying a few camping gadgets.  Which brings us to the third point.  Bug-out toys and gadgets are an industry.  Not everyone has your best interest at heart, and some people simply want to get at your money.  There is an entire industry around providing bug-out gear, and it’s too their benefit to make you think that bugging-out will save your life when in reality it’s only likely to endanger it more.

Bugging out is only appropriate if it will move you away from an immediate danger to somewhere safer. Click To Tweet

All that being said as I stated at the top of the post there are no absolutes in life.  There are a few situations where bugging-out is appropriate and I do want to call those out.  To me it all boils down to a regional disaster that can be avoided with distance.  An example of this would be a rampant forest fire, or nearby chemical spill, that are endangering your home.  If you can get away from them to make yourself safer, then you should do so.  However having a bag full of wilderness gear probably isn’t the right thing to help you survive those situations.  Any situation that does not specifically force you out of your home, is totally inappropriate for bugging out.  Do not leave until all your resources are expended.


So that’s my take on bugging out.  For the most part I think it’s a shortcut people take to make themselves feel better when they haven’t done the real work necessary to get prepared.  It’s far more dangerous than most people acknowledge and puts you at an immediate disadvantage.  In the near future I will write a post about bugging-out’s older smarter, more practical brother, bugging-in.

Stay Safe


Prepper Montreal

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2 thoughts on “Bugging out is (mostly) bullshit”

  1. Good article. Shelter in place is, most likely, the best option unless you are at ground zero. I carried a bugout bag in my vehicle before I retired but only because I was a first responder. About the only other reason to carry a bugout bag is to carry the essentials to get you back home if you are away.

  2. I agree with you that leaving should be your last option if you are not in immediate danger. Few have the knowledge to survive on their own. Learn as many skills as you can and have the ability to bug in. Find people of alike thought and learn basic skills known in the past. Thanks for a great site.

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