Bugging In vs Bugging Out: Have you Planned for Both Options?

One of the most commonly asked questions that I receive has to do with the topic of Bugging Out. While some of our readers have managed to escape the trappings of the big city, most of our readers still live in highly populated urban areas. Unfortunately, most of the emails that I receive from people who live in these Urban Death traps, often asks questions like “How do I Bug Out into the Wilderness once the SHTF.”

Hold the crazy train; you want to do what?

While bugging out is a real possibility that you may someday face, I would never advise anyone to just bug out into the wilderness. For even the most diehard outdoorsman, living in the wilderness full-time is something that most of us would never advise doing.  In my opinion, you’re setting yourself up for disaster, and it’s not a realistic survival plan that anyone should have in mind.

Bugging Out without a Place to go is Not a Plan, It’s a Death Sentence!

In the event you ever have to get the hell out of dodge, you must have a plan of action. I hear way too many people saying they are going to “head out into the wilderness” once the SHTF; sadly, most of these people haven’t spent a single night outdoors, and likely won’t last longer than 24 hours in a real-world wilderness survival situation.

Are you saying there’s never a good reason to Bug Out?

Not at all; in fact, I think the people who swear they will “shelter in place no matter what,” are just as foolish as those who believe that they are going to live out some extended episode of Survivorman.

The Pros & Cons of Bugging In Vs Bugging Out

Bugging Out and walking on railroad tracks

All too often, I see people get hung up on the notion of bugging out. Many people foolishly put themselves into one of two categories, those that believe bugging out is the only answer, and those that say sheltering in place is the only way to go.

In my opinion, you must be prepared for, and thoroughly understand the pros and cons of both options.

Bugging out considerations: When Getting Out of Dodge is your only option.

The moment you decide to bug out, you need to realize that you put yourself at immediate risk.  Your safety and security, your ability to sustain yourself, and your ability to protect yourself from the elements immediately become compromised.

In my opinion, bugging out is almost always a worst case scenario situation. To do it right you must have:

  • A detailed evacuation plan and you must know it like the back of your hand. This means regularly reviewing your route, practicing your get away, and knowing what things need to happen before you make the decision to bug out.
  • A bug out location: Leaving without a place to go is not a plan. If you plan on bugging out, you need to have a predetermined bug out location or emergency shelter already in place. Planning on living in the wild, unless you are an extremely experienced outdoorsman, is a recipe for disaster. Wilderness living should only be considered if you have an adequate shelter already in place.
  • A bug out bag filled with everything you need to make it to your Bug Out Location.
  • You must know your routes, and you need to have a plan B, C, D, etc… What if you’re routes are blocked or impassable? Do you know how to find food and water along your route? These are all thing you need to consider and plan for now.

Bugging in considerations: Staying safe by sheltering in place:

If at all possible, sheltering in place is usually the safest option. First, most of your supplies are probably going to be at your primary residence. Second, in most cases you will have a higher level of security inside your home than you will traveling out on the street.

While sheltering in place is often the safest bet, there are some considerations that you need to keep in mind.

  • You must always be prepared to leave. No matter how bad you want to stay, there will be times and situations that make it impossible to stay. If a category five hurricane is barreling towards your location, the last thing you want to do is shelter in place.
  • Home security needs to be a top priority. The ability to defend your home, from those that wish to do you harm, is one of the most important considerations that you need to prepare for. From Realistic Self Defense Training to fortifying your home, you must make home security a top priority.
  • Neighbors may come knocking. During a SHTF situation, you’re not so prepared neighbors are going to be in panic mode. While most of these people might not pose an immediate threat, if things get bad enough those once friendly neighbors will quickly become unpredictable. You must have a plan to deal with those that failed to prepare.
  • If you live in a high-density population center, you immediately put yourself in danger and make your chances of survival lower than if you lived in a rural area. While I’m not saying bugging in won’t work in an urban setting, it will become increasingly harder as the severity of the disaster increases. If you live in one of these urban areas, you need to seriously access your situation and understand the dangers associated with urban survival.

4 Comments

  1. I’ve been “Bugged in” since 84,I have no where to Bug Out to, Unless i’m burned out. There are Vacant Farms all over the country find out who owns them, if there is a old barn on it -rent/up grade it with owners permission Without raising his taxes or suspiction,call it hunting cabin,?.walk the property line,see what’s there to eat where is water source.you might be able to work out rent to own small payments legally,”bury something metallic”,if it stolen, someone is watching you.’
    wish I had someone to help me out,.keeb.

  2. Bugging in would be ideal for me, wild game close by not heavily populated area, can be defended if need be, I would have to set up rainwater collection though, we have city water and may have to survive on the morning dew if things get tight.However I live approximately 25 miles from a nuclear plant. If the shtf and it suffers a meltdown my odds would of survival would be slim.
    I do have 2 predestined locations.As soon as things turn ugly and the grid goes down, I would have to leave immediately. As someone stated earlier, I have hiked the application trail too, I still do a lot of backpacking and camping.As far as security, my wife is ex-law enforcement, and I served in the U.S.Army, both kids know how to properly use firearms.In my experience nothing ever goes according to plans, so you need to be able to adapt to changing situations and environment.I have several routes to take me to my locations, preferably by motor vechicle, will hump it on my back if I have too.So the plan is to avoid people and other disasters, chemical plants and nuclear plants.Thats hard to do on the east coast, but it is possible.
    1 location already has ever thing I need as far as shelter, woodstove, blankets, clothing ammo, water (well, a spring and surface).Deep in the wilderness, fruit trees and berries growing, tilled section for a garden, plus some wild edible plants and roots.It has abundant wildlife and fish.The second location is deep in forest about 250-300 miles away from any industrial plants,with plenty of water and wildlife.I would have to bring shelter (an old military wall tent) and outfitter stove, sleeping bags, hunting (archery and firearms), trapping, and fishing gear, axes ,handsaws, and other tools.Without supplies location 2 would be possible, but very difficult.If I can drive there location 2 would be ideal,it has plenty of water all year around and is very, very, secluded.I am currently learning bushcraft, wild edibles, and studying how to build a log cabin..I think I would be able to survive in the wilderness, if I have the supplies.Some stated earlier that people did before us, so we can too.It may be difficult at first, but if you have the desire to survive you will learn what to do

  3. Having disinfectant is very important in your supplies and the one I have is called Blue Coat. Up to 15 years ago it didn’t have the warning (For veterinary use only)! This is an anti-fungal/disinfectant/antiseptic THAT farmers have used forever for cuts and whatever on cattle/pig/dogs/cats/sheep. These animals don’t stay clean, take regular showers and dirt/whatever gets into these cuts but Blue Coat protects the cut because this stuff uses indemnimal ink to draw it deep into the skin/cut. I have used it on myself (since the 50’s) when the cut/wound was not healing with regular methods. I once got ring worm and it disappeared when Blue Coat was applied. When you bug out have it in your bag. Tractor Supply carry’s it but get the bottle with a swab in the cap because it is easier to apply than the spray can and will last much longer.

  4. I have thought about staying in my home. But, I’m going to have to bug-out I’ve heard all the pros & cons there is one thing no one is thinking about. If the city stops pumping water you have to figure that their going to stop pumping sewage that means it’s going to start backing up. People are going to still use the toilets that’s why they filled the tub. There are ways to over come this you just have to do it in advance. But, I still have to bug out, you have to take a good look at were you live. There are two colleges with-in walking-dis of my home and the way I see it they will be out of candy bars in about two days and come out looking for something to eat, and I don’t want to be the one that said no. Don’t think I could do that better to be gone.

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