"Most problems resolve themselves into self-evident solutions if you have enough reliable information, and you can eliminate emotion from the evaluation of it" Mel Tappen.
Fear is one of the more useful emotional responses we are born with. It is also carried along with groupthink and the mob mentality in your decision making.
Fear is the driving emotion in the prepping community, and with the COVID scare still going on, I have to think this is opening eyes all over. But irrational fear is not the emotion you should be using to make decisions concerning the concept of bugging out.
Unfortunately, this is nowhere more apparent than in the prepping community and the Bug Out Bag.
It is compounded with very popular fictional accounts online, and in books showing the hero, saving his family by walking home with a bag weighing nearly 100 lbs. The hero is typically middle-aged, and so is the writer. In these stories, there is always plenty of gear, but zero time carrying it for real.
The only thing the writers have ever carried is a cup of coffee to the office, and god forbid anyone who calls the writer out online, or in public when this comes out. Mistaken hero worship and large followings typify the mob fantasy mentality.
What this instills in the reader's mind, is carrying that weight cross country is a viable idea. It is also reinforced in forums and in groups on social media where people who have spent the equivalent of a house payment on their "bag" and want to hear your mouth repeating their opinion.
In finance, there is an old hard-and-fast rule: "Never follow the Mob."
The other more important thing to consider with online research. The majority of blogs are attached to websites having stores; They are using the blog to create fear and sell gear. Of course, some just want to help, mostly to help you spend money at their stores.
The 3-day fallacy
The three-day rule has been beaten to death by the misinformed, ignorant, and the movement to sell you something.
It came from the 1970s and 80's survivalist movement, and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), whether in concert or mutual ineptitude, say three days is adequate for your short-term supplies until "help" arrives.
I hate to tell you. That's not happening if it is larger than a localized emergency, so YOYO (You're On Your Own). Base everything as you are it, and no one else is coming.
You need a plan first.
Just like in ham radio, blindly panic buying gets you nothing but a giant box of gear. And when it all ends up in a closet, because you are second-guessing yourself every other week and you buy something else.
Without a plan, you are toast.
A plan consists of a few things. Before you buy anything, get your plans fixed in your mind.
- Where are you going? Does your plan include from work to home? From home to where you have supplies?
- How many miles? How are you getting there? Walking should be your last choice.
- Is there water available on your routes. Have you planned to carry enough to get there? Notice I said plural routes. Never have only one option for travel.
- How many people are you traveling with?
- Do you have supply stockpiles at another location?
- When, and why exactly will you decide to bug out. Define it in detail. When the neighbors leave when there is no water when the sky lights up, and there is a mushroom cloud, wildfires, floods? What will trigger you into action?
I'm going to break it down in order.
During Katrina, there was a mandatory evacuation in place, and the unprepared sent to the Super Dome. If you want to see what will happen to refugees without a plan, google this.
Knowing where you are going is a confidence builder. When your family sees you say, "I got this," because you know what is happening and what to do, they are much calmer.
Against all sane advice, I will share my "bug out" plan if there is a wildfire in my area. For those who do not live in areas it only rains a few times a year, this might seem to be a bit out there. I think in an area like mine, buying a boat in case it floods (I live on the side of a mountain, at 5000 feet in a desert) is insane. But fires start easily and spread at prevailing windspeed here.
I am locked and loaded, figuratively, for the most likely hazard. Planning starts with the likely, and only when the likely is prepared for then you prep for the next on your list.
I'm going to use the bulk water storage tanks I posted about in the Prepping- Not just for fringes anymore Part 2.
If you have a swimming pool, it is ideal for this plan. A pool is equivalent to 50 Fire Engines for water capacity. Rainwater collection is also a good option here, and if it's illegal, mark it as a Fire Fighting installation and tell your neighborhood snitch to kiss-off.
Drag them outside empty, fill from the hose, so I have a decent reservoir to pump from and cover everything within 50 feet of the house and the house roof (Houses burn from the roof down in most cases of brushfires) with foam. Take lots of pictures of me doing it and open the USAA app on my phone and upload them.
Yes, I will have time. Fires don't travel fast, and I am always listening to my scanner. And the locals are Johnny-on-the-spot with the firefighting response.
Grab the USB drive with all my important documents and my 5-day bag. When USAA gets my pre-claim information, they will send me money to stay somewhere outside my home. When and only when, the evac order comes will I leave.
To the Embassy Suites in Tucson, because this isn't a fantasy novel. They make an excellent breakfast, and the coffee is top-notch for hotels.
In my bag- Business casual clothes and pool wear. Shaving kit and other items usually carried to a hotel vacation. While the rest of the "BOB refugees" are wondering where they are going and what to bring. Because this scenario is not in their fantasy, they have dreamed of.
No rifles, no stove, no water filter, no fishing kits. None of the crap most pack for the SHTF scenario they are living in their fantasy world about. Never base your decisions on fear. Base them on your plan.
Specific scenarios need a specific plan.
Every possible scenario has to be planned out, and only then do you build a BOB.
Always define your destination. In your planning, before you pack a single item in your pockets, vehicle, or bags. No destination makes you a refugee. Never be a refugee. You will be food for someone else at the point where you are reliant on another for help. Organizations, governments, or just people will not have you or your family's best interests in their plans.
Once you know where you are going, you know what distance you have to travel. If this is confusing to you, if your thoughts are, but I'm never in the same place. If you get a map and draw a circle around your workplace and where each of your family lives, where you shop, you'll find you've spent most of the last year in 90% of these places.
This is dependent on you being smart enough to dress for the weather before you leave the house. If not, you have to have clothes you won't freeze or cook in, in your car kits.
If your REALISTIC assessment of where you are most of the time shows, you are 20 miles or less from your home base/ supply stash, you don't need a thing except water and a solid pair of boots. I can hear the teeth of resellers grinding from that one statement.
These are favorites of mine. Not expensive, break in easily and with a coat of Huberds Shoe Grease.
I've been using this stuff for over 30 years. It works very well and keeps your boots from drying out or rotting. The leather gets very soft and fits like slippers in 2 applications during the break-in process.
Plan how to get home or to your place of supplies. It is really that simple.
Let's talk about water. Water is the only thing you absolutely can not negotiate away. Determine how far you are going, how much water you will need, and where you will get it.
If you are carrying water, you may need a way to get more.
Low-cost water filters are worth exactly what you pay for them. I covered this briefly in a previous article.
Lifestraws and the Sawyer types get contaminated very easily. Once contaminated on the outside, they are no longer safe to drink from. They cannot be user serviced, so once they freeze or are clogged, you are done. They are not readily adaptable to filter water for a group.
You need a real pump type filter and metal containers to boil if your options are limited. You also need spare parts for the filter, in case things freeze or break.
I am taking a long look at this new MSR. It has backflow capability and self-cleaning. It removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and sediment and is freeze resistant because of its self-cleaning feature. The water doesn't stay in the filter; it drains off during the cleaning process. I would not carry this or any filter outside my clothing in freezing temperatures, but it is an improvement over everything so far.
Not inexpensive, but so few things worth it are.
How many people are you traveling with?
If you are alone, traveling can be very fast. The larger the group, the slower you travel. A trip you make alone for 30 miles will take 24 hours, but it may take 3-4 days if you have small children or elderly. This, of course, is dependent on vehicle or foot travel.
Stop forgetting your vehicles; a half tank of fuel will get you a long way before you have to walk. Extra fuel will get you further than the average person who has none.
The US Army has created a doctrine of dropping supplies ahead of troops, so they are essentially attacking to their supplies. It's a good idea for you as well. Always travel towards a destination with adequate supplies.
Setting out with the idea you will figure it out later just condemns you and those you love.
Get the online and print ideas of bugging out, out of your planning. Stop following the mob, think, and think critically for yourself.
Do you have supplies at another location?
If you do, grab your run-like-hell bags and get there. Bail early and fast. Don't wait for the masses to clog the roads or panic into mob rule.
This is where the Get Home Bag you carry in your car or pre-positioned at work comes in.
The car bag is also a prudent idea, but for the possibility of being snowbound or otherwise unable to travel. Again, this is not a disaster, just a 24-48-hour inconvenience. A pot to melt snow or your frozen water in the car, a sleeping bag for everyone in the car, and a shovel to keep the tailpipe clear of snow. A few meals and snacks packed, and you are good.
I have a case of bottled water in my truck, a bag of munchies in my EDC (Every Day Carry) bag with my Kindle and radio. A pistol attached, an AR pistol in the truck I can sling under my smock, and I'm ready to roll, and I'm not walking unless the truck won't start, is stuck or runs out of gas.
If all your supplies and preparations are at your home, guess what? You've prepped for someone else to find if you bug out. All of your preps should include the most likely scenarios to occur in your geographic area. If you are in the bigger metropolitan areas, your plans should include rapid redeployment to another well-stocked location.
The popularity of the BOB concept on the surface is a good idea at first look. But listening to the mob, you've never considered what happens after you've eaten everything in your bag. It's fun to buy tools, its fun to think about picking locks and hiding out with your AR in the bush.
But look out your windows right now. There is effectively nothing going on in most of the country today. Do you need to jump up your loadout to a 2-week bag in your car and carry 600 rounds of ammunition? Probably not.
Actually, absolutely not. It's just more to carry when your plans to walk show up. You want to strip down to as light as possible to travel fast. Again, if you are walking.
Prepping is about the long term, not a bag packed for three days. It is a placebo, false hope, and a tangible thing to say you've started prepping. It's like a very expensive package of toilet paper. Don't drink the kool-aid, it's a costly mistake to make when long term preps need more attention than a bag.
It's to get you home. This is a reasonable scenario to plan for. Again, do not automatically plan to walk. The walking scenario is created by fantasy authors and online merchants to sell you things. Don't buy the fantasy. Think for yourself.
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Prices accurate at time of writing