Bugging out is (mostly) bullshit

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.

Exceptions
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

Don’t just trash it. Repair it or Re-use it.

Simply said we live in a disposable society.  Consumerism and planned obsolescence have trained us to use things only until they are old or break and then throw them away.  It wasn’t always like this.  Our grandparents or great grandparents lived and died by what they were able to repair.  They wouldn’t have dreamed of throwing out many of the things that we now consider disposable.  They repaired or re-used everything they could and developed useful skills doing so.

As preppers it’s important that we push back against these societal trends.  We know that you may not always be able to simply go down to the store and replace whatever is broken.   We need to cultivate the skills of repair and reuse for our own long term benefit.

Being able to repair things is a key prepping skill. Click To Tweet
Why should we repair it?

Much of the technology we work with on a daily basis may as well be magic for all the understanding most people have of it.  It’s becoming a mystery how exactly things work.  If you didn’t have the internet would you be able to troubleshoot or repair anything?  Cultivate the skill now in good times while you have the resources.

Let me give you a simplistic example.  The other day I broke the handle on a hatchet.  Given how difficult it was for me to find a replacement I can only assume that most people would have simply thrown it out and bought a new one.  Instead of doing this I replaced it.  I gained a better understanding of how it was put together.  If I had no other options I could replace it using only a knife, branch and some pieces of metal.  I increased my own self sufficiency and saved some money doing it.

Let me be clear, it won’t always be that easy, and you won’t always be successful. There is one power tool that I have replaced multiple parts on and it still doesn’t work!  But in the process I have learned much more about how that tool works and by association how many other tools work.  I value the opportunity that trying to repair it has provided me to expand my knowledge.

I will sometimes use a specialist.  For instance I use a cobbler to repair my shoes.  But I try and learn from what they do so that if I’m in a tight spot I have an idea on how to approach it.  That said as preppers there are specific things that we should always be trying to repair ourselves.  Outdoor or camping equipment, tools and even clothes are at the top of the list.

As a prepper you should always be trying to repair outdoor or camping equipment. Click To Tweet
If it doesn’t need repair can you reuse it?

Finding new and different ways to use the things that you might be throwing out is another way to cultivate these important skills.  It provides you an opportunity for lateral thinking.  How can you use something in a different way to accomplish a specific task?

It may be because of the industry I am in but I see people constantly replacing their smartphones.  Where many simply see an outdated piece of technology I see many possibilities.  There are all sorts of things you can do with an old smartphone to give it a second life.  The first would be loading it full of useful apps and leaving it as a backup in your car, your bugout location, or even a Faraday cage.  If you’ve already done that they why not re purpose it and build a trail cam, home security system, baby monitor, e-reader, digital frame, or remote?  There are tons of possibilities.

Turning trash into tools is an invaluable skill for a prepper to learn. Click To Tweet

Another example is reusing the tin cans you are recycling or throwing away.  Have some large cans?  Build a rocket stove or container garden.  Have some small cans? Build a solar hot water heater or make some fishing hooks.  Play with them and see what you can come up with!  Being able to make your own tools will mean you are infinitely more prepared.

Cultivating the concepts of repair and re-use because they will make you a better prepper.

Stay Safe

 

Prepper Montreal