Bugging out on foot

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.

Peace out,

About my bugout bag…

my bugout bagWhen I got into prepping, one of the first things I noticed was just about everyone writing or talking about prepping was going on about how important it is to have a bugout bag. Naturally, the first thing I needed to do was put together my own bugout bag. You know, so when SHTF I can grab my bugout bag. It will keep me and my family alive while the unwashed masses perish. I’m a gear junkie, so the idea of researching the ultimate bugout bag and buying all the cool s*** to fill it with was very appealing to me. Right? Well, maybe not so fast…

What is a bugout bag anyway?

According to almost everything I’ve read, a bugout bag is designed to keep you alive for 72 hours after you “bug out,” i.e. leave your home in the face of disaster or whatever. Sometimes they are even called “72 hour bags” instead of bugout bags. Whatever you call them, the premise is they’ll keep you alive until you get to wherever you’re bugging out to. Almost every prepper web site has their own idea of the ultimate bugout bag. Most of them even have long lists of convenient amazon product links so you don’t even need to do any research. Just click on the affiliate links and you’re almost guaranteed to make it through any crisis…

The problem with bugging out…

The problem with bugging out is the way most people (including “experts”) present it. It works like this: in the face of impending disaster, you grab your bugout bag and bugout to… where? Head to the hills? A predetermined bugout location? Neither option is viable for most people, and most bloggers writing about bugging out don’t talk about getting back home once you’ve bugged out. In other words, follow their advice and you’re voluntarily making yourself a refugee. NOT a good idea, at least in my humble opinion.

If you think bugging out is viable, consider this. My preferred bugout location is only 200 miles south – an easy half day drive. If I pick the time and day right, I can make it in about 3-1/2 hours. On the other hand, if I have to leave at the wrong time, it takes an hour to get just from the north to the south end of my city – and there are 2 other cities after that, that have even worse traffic. And this is during normal times when people are just driving to work. Figure 10 times as much traffic during some kind of panic, and, well, I hope you get the idea…

Do words matter?

So I have a bag. Does it matter whether I call it my bugout bag or something else? I think it does. If I call it my bugout bag, the mindset it reinforces is that I’m bugging out – leaving my home with (maybe) no plans on returning. That is not my mind set. If I’m forced out of my home, my intention is to return as soon as possible. I don’t call my bag my bugout bag, I call it my get home bag. Some might say they’re the same thing. Maybe, so I pick a name that helps me remember what the purpose of the bag is – NOT to help me get away from home, but to sustain me and my family if we’re forced out, and to help us return home when whatever threat has passed.

Peace out,