Does your bug out plan account for the possibility of bugging out on foot? There are lots of reasons you might have to bug out on foot, so if you’re plans don’t account for it, you might want to update your plans. Just saying… I’m not talking about “tactical” considerations. Actually I’m starting to hate the word. “Tactical.” What does it mean any way? Nothing actually because it’s so over used. Anyway, I’m talking about the practical considerations of bugging out on foot. Like how much can you carry? How far can you walk in a day? You know, all the boring stuff. For now I’ll talk about how far. Next time I’ll talk about how much you can carry.
Bugging out on foot – practical considerations
Bugging out on foot is not the ideal way to bug out. Having a vehicle makes things so much easier. The problem is that vehicles break down. They run out of fuel. They can get stolen or sabotaged. Whatever the reason, you might end up being on foot even if you planned on bugging out in your truck. For this discussion, “vehicle” also includes cars, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, game carts, shopping carts, converted baby strollers, etc. All of them offer advantages over being strictly “on foot.” All of them can also break or get lost or stolen, putting you back… on foot.
For bugging out on foot, there are 2 practical things you need to think about: how much you can carry and far you can get in an hour or a day. Notice I didn’t say “how fast you can walk.” Normal walking speed and how far you can get in a given amount of time are different. Bugging out on foot is not speed walking.
How far can you walk in a day?
Today I got around to something I’ve been thinking about for awhile – timing myself over a measured distance. I had to drop my wife’s car off for an oil change, so I decided to walk home. Once I got home, I fired up Google Maps to see how far I’d walked. It was a hair over 1-3/4 miles and it took me 29 minutes. That works out to 3-1/2 miles in an hour. Some quick checking showed that my walking speed was a little faster than average for men in my age group (50 – 59). So far so good.
3-1/2 miles in an hour is pretty good for an old fart, especially considering some things. First of all, I’m about 40 lbs. overweight. Second, I slept on the floor last night. It was the first time in a long time, so my back was really sore. My legs were also sore from doing a lot of ladder work yesterday. So I was pretty happy with my speed. Still, there’s lots of room for improvement.
Also, keep in mind it was perfect conditions for walking. Sunny, about 40° F, and calm. The terrain was almost level and I was walking on a paved path. Except for my “extra” 40 lbs, I wasn’t carrying a load (no back pack or bog out bag). I didn’t have to stop and look for things or hide myself. No need to alter my course. There were no obstacles to go avoid or find a way around. So – just because I can walk 3-1/2 miles in one hour doesn’t mean I’ll be able to cover 28 miles in 8 hours.
Going for a walk vs. bugging out on foot
When you’re bugging out on foot, you probably won’t have perfect conditions for your “walk.” At the very least, you’ll be carrying (or at least should be carrying) some gear – most likely your bug out bag. I know for sure that a 20 lb pack cuts my endurance and increases effort by quite a bit. How much it affects you depends on you – your fitness level, experience, etc. So get ready for it. Maybe you’re in great shape and don’t need this. If so, my hat is off to you. Keep doing what you’re doing (but don’t forget to encourage those who aren’t quite at your level). OTOH I know a lot of people who think they’re not just ready to bug out on foot, they’re MORE than ready – except they’re in even worse shape physically than I am. So for the rest of you…
If you’re overweight, get some self discipline and do what you need to do to lose weight. If you’re out of shape, get some self discipline and start doing conditioning exercises. Better yet, start working on both conditioning and strength. At the very least, start walking more. Then step it up. Start walking with a pack. Ideally, your fully loaded bug out bag. If that’s too heavy for you, guess what? You’ve got some work do do. At least you found out you won’t be able to use your bug out bag to <ahem> bug out with. Better to find out now than when SHTF. Just saying…
Make sure you have comfortable boots. I love my Merrils. Very comfortable and they look nice enough to wear to work. Some of my friends swear by Danners. Brand doesn’t really matter as long as they’re comfortable and durable.
Find some hills to go up and down. Practice walking on rough and rocky trails. Even in the city you should be able to find some. Walk when you think it’s too cold or too hot. Do it in the rain. That would be a great way to find out if your rain gear works before you really need it to work, right? Walk when it’s hot and the sun is beating down on you. Walk barefoot when you have the chance. All of this will help you if ever the day comes when you’re forced to bug out on foot. And if that day never comes??? If that day never comes, count your blessings and be thankful.
In the mean time, enjoy walking. Reap the health benefits. Revel in being outdoors doing what you love even if you’re stuck in the city. There’s a saying “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” I think it’s also true that “You can take the backwoodsman out of the woods, but you can’t take the woods out of the backyardsman.” Until next time, happy walking.