A Bug Out Scenario

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With the world constantly changing and threats to our nation more prevalent than ever we need to be prepared for a bug out scenario, bugging out may be the only option. The term bug out as defined by merriam-webster means: to retreat during a military action. I believe the term covers more than just military actions today and can be applied to situations such as a economic collapse, widespread disease, and more where someone may want to retreat to a safer location.

The question on a lot of peoples minds is why they should bug out. Simply put to save yours and your family's lives, during some type of catastrophic event the structure of large cities and towns will be madness. We've seen this demonstrated time and time again in situations such as hurricane Katrina, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the earthquake in Haiti.

In situations like this if your house is lucky enough to still be standing you'll have a host of other problems to contend with. Looters, loss of power, water and food shortages are just some of the problems you'll face.

In this post we're going to cover a prepper's (whom we'll call Randy) journey during an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) strike and take a look at a some of the things he'll have prepared before hand. We'll also take a look at some of the dangers he'll face on the way, and what he needs to do once he has reached his destination.

Related Article: The Best Bug Out Bag Backpacks

Prepping for a Bug Out Scenario

Preparation is key for any emergency you'll exponentially increase your chances of success by preparing properly. Randy has done his homework and has a solid plan for his bug out trip, and also possesses skills that will help him during his bug out. In addition to his plan and skills Randy has also prepared a bag called a bug out bag that will be his life line when SHTF. We're going to examine each of these and talk a bit about them so you can get an idea of how you can prepare for a get out of dodge situation.

Planning for SHTF

planning for shtf

Randy has set forth a well thought out plan in case he ever needs to bug out. He's explained it to his wife and 3 kids and made sure that everyone fully understands it. You'll also need to make a set of plans to ensure you and your family make it out of dodge. Randy selected a nice location for his destination and found a vehicle that will assist him in getting there. In addition to this Randy has also acquired a set of skills that will allow him to be more of an asset in a situation like this. Lets go over these individually so you can begin making your own bug out plans today. First we'll setup your bug out location, then we'll find the best bug out vehicle for you and finally we'll look at some skills you can gain to aid you in a doomsday type event.

The Best Bug Out Location

​Picking the best possible bug out location can be harder for some than others because of where they live. If you live in  a large city it can be harder to find a location outside to setup your location. You may even have to make your bug out location out of state. Ideally in my mind you want your destination to be in a more rural area, like I said before this can be harder for some people if they already live in a heavily populated state without much rural land. You can always save up some money though and invest in a small acreage somewhere for your bug out location. When you go to pick your location you'll want to scope it out for a few things the most important I would say is food and water. This is probably the main reason I think bugging out to a rural area is preferable. You'll be able to hunt and catch wild game, fish and the chances of finding clean water are better. Going five miles out of the city limits however is probably not a good idea. Simply because you'll have hundreds of people with the same idea making it harder to compete for resources and adding to potential dangers. Ideally I would say you want your location to be far enough from a city so that you aren't competing for these resources. A good day or two hike out of town would be preferable.

Finding the Best Bug Out Shelter
best bug out shelter

When you're looking for your SHTF shelter there are a couple things to keep in mind. You'll want a place that you can easily defend if you need to. This may require you to make a few modifications to the terrain or adding in security features. You may want to set up a barbed wire fence around your property to help deter any intruders, putting pad locks on any gates will also help. Security cameras or alarm systems can also be utilized to ensure further security if you have the energy to power these systems. Being able to make your bug out shelter self sustainable is a good idea if you have to be there for any length of time. Having solar panels, wind generators, and or diesel/gas generators will help you out a lot. If you're planning on running some type of fuel generator you'll want to make sure that you have plenty of fuel to get you by. You may consider adding in a well or water pump so you can have fresh water once you arrive and have your bug out shelter stocked with food year round. This way when SHTF and you make it to your shelter you'll be ahead of the game and have plenty of food and water to sustain you. This will allow you to gather more food and setup more defenses once you arrive.  Another you'll want to look for in your bug out shelter is fertile land. If you're a green thumb gardening will be an excellent way to have food all year and all you have to do is store the seeds you wish to plant inside your shelter.

The Best Bug Out Vehicle

best bug out vehicle

Having a bug out vehicle can be very important for getting you to your destination. They will substantially cut down on the time it takes to get you out of dodge. There are a few things you should for in a bug out vehicle though. First thing I look for is cargo room. The more room you have the more supplies you'll be able to take along with you. This can be very important when you have plenty of bug out gear, extra fuel, clothes etc that you need to take along. The next thing I look for in my GOOD (get out of dodge) vehicle is room for people. Ideally you'll want a vehicle that will hold at least 5 people, 2 in the front and 3 or more in the back. With plenty of room for people you'll be able to take any friends or family you have with you. Have good room will also help to keep everyone comfortable though out the trip. Another thing to keep in mind is fuel economy with all the new hybrids and electric vehicles on the market today this isn't as hard as it used to be. When I'm looking for a fuel efficient bug out vehicle I look for something that gets at least 20 mpg. If you get less miles per gallon you'll have to compensate by carrying more fuel which will take up room for other bug out essentials. The last thing I look for in my GOOD vehicle is off road capability. You want something that will go off road if you need it to. Look for vehicles with 4WD and tires that offer good traction.

Skills You'll Need During a Bug Out Scenario

Having the right set of skills will be huge for surviving in TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). Let's cover some of the main skills I think every prepper should know in case they're faced with a bug out type scenario. The first one we're going to cover is first aid, safety first right? Then we'll go into survival skills, hunting, fishing and gardening. Now it's important to note that you don't have to be an expert in each of these skills but be aware of them and know some information about each. They're are loads of classes and courses you can take as well as articles like the ones found at preppers unlimited. So finding this information shouldn't be a problem and you should look for it to further increase you bug out skills.

Bug Out First Aid
bug out first aid

First aid is a great skill for preppers to possess, you don't need to be an EMT. Just taking a basic first aid class once or twice a year will help you to have a good understanding of first aid. Treating burns, minor cuts, sprains and bone breaks are all things you'll learn how to do and are very important to know when SHTF. In addition to this you'll learn how to perform CPR which is another lifesaving skill to have all on it's own. If you want to know more about first aid we have articles on the site covering it with even more coming.

Survival Skills for a Bug Out Scenario
bug out survival skills

Having a good set of survival skills can be invaluable during a bug out scenario. There are loads of videos and articles all over the web to help you learn. In most places you can even find survival classes to further refine your skills. There are three main things that I recommend you take the time to learn. The first being water purification, the average human can only go a few days without water so it's important that you not only find water but have some way of purifying it. Knowing if water is safe to drink or not can really save you a lot of grief as well so take the time to learn about survival water filtration. The next thing I recommend you learn is fire making, being able to make a fire in a survival situation can not only save your life but it can also be a huge morale booster. Fire will keep you warm at night, keep predators away and give you a way to purify your water. This can be a tricky skill to learn but is very important for any survival situation. One thing to keep in mind however when building fire and bugging out is to be aware of the light your fire puts off. You may not want to draw a lot of attention to yourself for many reasons, perhaps you're being pursued by someone, so keeping a low profile fire might be ideal. The third thing to learn about survival is shelter building. If you find your self with out a vehicle or stuck in the middle of nowhere it's nice to be able to build a shelter that will keep you warm and dry through the night. There are several styles of shelters you can build but mainly you're wanting some way to get out of the wind and off the ground. You can insulate your shelter by using leaves or pine boughs and layering those on the ground. You can use the same technique on the outer walls of your shelter to help keep rain out as well as the wind.

Hunting and Fishing While Bugging Out
hunting and fishing bug out

If you're faced with a scenario where you are with out food and are in the midst of your bug out you're going to need some way of getting food. This can be a difficult task for a lot of people who haven't spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Depending on the landscape around you you'll have the option of either hunting, fishing or both so being skilled in the two is really important for your survival. With hunting and fishing there are a couple different ways you can approach them. You can be aggressive and actually look for the game and try to spear, shoot or catch them. This can be good if you know where to look and how to get the game you're looking for, on the other hand you could be spending precious calories trying to do something you won't succeed in. Another alternative is a more passive approach, where you make traps for either fish or animals in addition to live traps you can also use snares or dead fall traps on animals. I recommend using a balance of both the aggressive and passive techniques to increase your chances of getting some food.

Gardening After TEOTWAWKI
gardening after teotwawki

As I mentioned above you'll be able to garden with proper soil once you've arrived at your bug out location. Depending on what zone you decide to bug out too will determine what kind of plants you can grow. In most places of the U.S. you'll be able to grow these few garden vegetables. Potatoes are great for a survival food, they have everything you need to stay a live for quite some time. Just put a little butter on them and you're good to go for a long while. The two combined will provide you with carbs, protein, and fat. Eating potatoes and butter everyday is going to get old after awhile so you're going to want to switch it up, beans are another great source of protein and are also a good source of fiber. Another great thing about beans is they can be dried giving them a longer shelf life, and then boiled in water later when you want to eat them. Tomatoes are another great food to grow they're high in lycopene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and contain some potassium as well. Planting garlic can serve many purposes and is a great choice for your bug out garden. Garlic is well known for it's anti-viral, anitbiotic, and antifungal properties. It doesn't offer much in terms of nutrition but can add great flavor to other vegetables you plant.

Related Article: How to Build a Bug Out Bag

Making the Ultimate Bug Out Bag

Ultimate bug out bag

Randy has picked his bug out location in a nice remote wooded area and stocked his bug out shelter with plenty of food and water to get him by. He's also found a Jeep that he'll use for his bug out vehicle and has also stocked it with gear and other essentials for his bug out trip. Randy also has acquired the skills necessary to complete his bug out. In addition to this Randy has also made a bug out bag commonly referred to as a B.O.B, three day pack, G.O.O.D bag etc. Let's take a look at what it takes to make a proper B.O.B and some bug out gear and supplies you can include in your bag.  Finding the right bug out bag depends on your intentions and what you're prepping for. Most people will go with a 3 day style of bag which is what I have and recommend. You'll need to set a budget for purchasing a bag. This is pretty easy to do in fact I got my bug out bag on sale at walmart for about $40. You can probably find one for less and for sure more if you want to. There are a lot of bags to use for your G.O.O.D bag I prefer to use a MOLLE style bag though because it allows me to attach additional pouches and gear. The bag in the picture made by red rock outdoor gear is a solid choice for a bug out bag.

Bug Out Bag Essentials

bug out bag essentials

Making the ultimate bug out bag requires having the right essentials and supplies to put in your bug out backpack. One of the first things you should do is find or make a list of bug out gear for your pack. We offer a great starter guide complete with a bug out bag checklist for anyone to download here on preppers unlimited. Let's take a look at some of the essential items to include in your bug out bag. 

When you're looking for essentials to put in your pack you want to look at the basics. One of the first things I put in my bug out bag is a good survival knife. If you have a good survival knife you'll be able to do a lot with just that. You can clean game, cut wood, use it as a weapon and much more. If you modify your knife or have a blade that's capable you can use it with a fire starter as well to start fire. So having a good survival knife is high up on my bug out bag list. The next thing I look for is a fire starter there are a bunch of different kinds out there but the one I keep in my bag is a magnesium flint starter you can buy one on Amazon for around $5 -$10. These fire starters are extremely reliable, even if the get wet you can still get a good spark out of them. Using the magnesium helps by allowing the spark from the flint to burn extremely hot. They come with a small steel blade attached by a chain and you can use this to shave off the magnesium and strike the flint. Another bug out bag essential to include is a first aid kit. Having a basic first aid kit is really important for a bug out scenario. You'll be able treat burn, cuts and bug bites which are all pretty common injuries when outdoors. You should also look for one that comes with a cold compress so you can apply it to any sprains you might have. The next essential that's high up on my bug out bag list is a way to purify water. The life straw that we mention in a previous post is great item to include in your bug out bag. You can also include a small container of bleach to purify your water as well. In my pack I have two or three small containers of water purification tablets that I found at walmart for a pretty good price.

Other Bug out Bag Supplies and Gear to Include

bug out bag supplies and gear

In addition to the essential items for your bug out bag you're gonna want to include some more items. I recommend getting a compass this is a great item for your pack. You want a compass you can trust but you don't have to spend bucks on one either. Cordage is another great asset when in a survival situation you can use it to make bow for hunting, a bow drill kit for making fire, frames for a shelter, etc. Having good cordage can really be a be a god send in a bug out scenario. I always carry some 550 paracord with me whether its in my paracord bracelet, boot laces or in my bug out bag I always have some on hand. With all the chopping and cutting you'll be doing with your knife it won't take long for the blade to dull. Having a good sharpening stone on hand will come in handy, I keep a pocket stone in my bag for resharpening my knife. If you have MOLLE webbing on your pack like I do you can attach some really cool bug out gear to your bag. Maxpedition makes some great gear that's designed to be lashed using the MOLLE webbing on your pack. You can get mag pouches, utility pouches, first aid bags, and much more. As I mentioned earlier in the essentials section you need a fire starter one is good, but multiple is great! Having a couple lighters some different kinds of matches and one or two flint strikers only increases your chances of getting a fire going which is always good. They don't weigh much and take up only a small amount of space, and if one fails you'll have another to go for. In the event that they all fail you'll always have primitive ways of making fire to fall back on. A pair of leather work gloves is another item I keep in my bug out bag you don't need anything special just something to protect your hands when doing some harder labor. Subscribe by downloading our free bug out bag starter guide giveaway to get a full checklist and more.

The SHTF... its Time to Bug Out

emp bug out scenario

Randy is at home getting ready for work and his wife is getting the kids ready for school. The lights go out the t.v. turns off. The utility company must have shut the power off to do some work he thinks and tells his wife it'll be on soon. Randy finishes getting ready for work and heads to his car to head out. It won't start. He tries several time but nothing happens its completely dead. Just what he needs right? He pulls his cell phone out to let his boss know he'll be late for work. It's dead. Randy now fears the threat of an EMP strike on the United States. He goes inside and talks to his wife her phone is also dead in fact nothing in the house works that requires electricity. Randy now knows that its time to bug out. His Jeep the one he planned on using for his bug out vehicle is also dead. Luckily he came up with a back up plan to get his family out safe regardless. He printed out a series of maps that show the way to his bug out location a couple days away on foot. Randy rounds up all the bug out gear for him and his wife and they set out. He knows the dangers they'll face along the way and has prepared accordingly. Let's take a look at some of the common threats and dangers that come with bugging out.

Dangers of Bugging Out

dangers of bugging out

When bugging out you're likely to face a whole host of dangers, being able to overcome these threats and dangers is something you need to prepare for. Knowing how to react in these situations can mean the difference between a successful bug out and one that, well doesn't go as planned. We're going to cover a couple common dangers you might encounter when bugging out. Wild animals are likely to be a common threat people will face so we'll cover that topic first. Often times you may encounter people, while most might be friendly theirs bound to be a few bad eggs out there after TEOTWAWKI so we'll discuss that topic as well. Being able to defend your self in these types of scenarios is crucial, we'll take a look at some things related to self defense so that you'll be ready for whatever happens.

Dealing with Wild Animals while Bugging Out

dealing with wild animals while bugging out

When​ you're in the wild having you're likely to come across some animals that aren't exactly excited to see you. While walking you can simply talk out loud to your self so that animals will actually hear you coming and won't be startled. A trick the natives of India use is to wear a mask on the back of your head. The idea of this is that any tigers stalking you will see the eyes of the mask and will circle around to your front where you'll be able to see them. You should also carry some bear mace with you as well, this can be part of your bug out bag gear or you can find or make a holster to carry it on your belt. Bear mace is similar to pepper spray in that it irritates the eyes and nasal passages it also contains the main component capsicum but in much larger quantities. If you're using bear mace or peppers spray for that matter you should take caution to not get any on your self. Having a fire is great for not only staying warm, and boiling water it can also be used to ward off predators. This makes fire an even more important bug out and survival priority.

Encountering People When Bugging Out

encountering people while bugging out

When SHTF you're likely to encounter people along the way to your bug out location. Its probably true that most of the people you meet will be friendly and willing to help, but its also true that you're likely to encounter some bad eggs. Having some knowledge in self defense could save your life. There are plenty of classes and courses to get involved in for learning about self defense. A lot of places have schools or clubs for mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, etc. getting involved in these is highly recommended. You'll not only get a physical workout but you'll gain the skills to defend yourself as well. Somethings you can add to your bug out gear list is a can of pepper spray and or taser. You'll be able to use these to keep someone who poses a threat away from you. Although having pepper spray and self defense skills are great they may not be enough. Having a firearm such as a pistol either concealed or not may prove more effective. Just by having a weapon may be enough to keep most people from messing with you. In addition to this you may find yourself needing a particular item to help you reach your bug out shelter, some people might be more than happy to help you out. Others may want something in return, having some bartering items to throw in your bug out bag is a good idea to help you get items you need. Examples of bartering items might include spices, tobacco, alcohol, etc. these aren't a must have, but they are recommended as they could come in handy.

Reaching your Bug Out Destination

bug out destination

Randy has made the journey from town to his bug out location, he's prepared, planned, and faced battles along the way. Its not over though the battles will still there, at times it may seem like a constant struggle to survive. If you've properly prepared your bug out shelter however your chances of surviving and even thriving are greatly increased. At this point in the game you've accomplished a lot so lets review what got us here. Proper planning by finding the perfect bug out shelter and stocking it for when we arrive will leave you better off now that we've made it. You should acquire the skills that will get you out of any situation and help you thrive in TEOTWAWKI.  Making your bug out bag and filling it with the right essentials, supplies and gear will help you along the way to your bug out location. Knowing the dangers of bugging out and how to combat them will keep you and your family safe while traveling after SHTF.

Hopefully this bug out scenario will help you in understanding the basics of prepping and bugging out. If you have any questions or want to leave some feedback feel free to do so in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and check back soon for even more articles coming.


  • Randy

    Great article! I enjoyed reading the information you complied and your very in depth take on TEOTWAWKI! Would you also be able to give insight on ways to keep your stress level down and keep a positive mindset in this type of event? And maybe the quickest way to build a good fire without a lighter? Or if you lose your flint?

    • Hey Randy glad you enjoyed the article. I like your ideas for new articles I think these are all great things to know how to do in a TEOTWAWKI like event and we’ll definitely be covering these topics so check back soon. Thanks for your comment and for reading the article.

  • My goal is to help preppers and others understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.

  • Carl Daschke

    Good article Randy. It is an excellent guide to get folks thinking in the right direction when a bug out situation. How about sharing your thoughts concerning actions that may be considered for those where
    leaving an urban area for the country “farm” is not a realistic option in response to a SFTF scenario?