Bugging out is a last ditch option in times of need, yet a situation that one should consider. However, families all over the country are forced from their homes every day due to fires, natural disasters, evacuations and localized issues. In putting together my own experience with my bug out bags over the years and seeing the kits of others, I came up with a list of 10 mistakes I see common in bug out bags.
Keep in mind there is no wrong bug out bag, any bug out bag is better than nothing. But avoiding these mistakes will save you money, hone your bag to a do anything be anything platform that can save your life, deliver you safely to your bug out location and serve as a basis for a larger survival system. Years ago, when I made my first bug out bag I committed most, if not all the mistakes on this list. Over the years, as I reassessed my bug out situation, my needs of change, I recognized lots of these mistakes and began correcting them. If you’re thinking about making your first bug out bag (and everyone should have one), or perhaps you already have one and you’re looking for inspiration on how to do it better hopefully this article will help. The goal of any bug out is to avoid conflict and reach your destination as fast and as safe as possible. Really, you want to hunker in as much as humanly possible especially if you have a family. If the neat arises you really want to be able to go from your not safe place to your safe place as quickly and safely as possible. This will help ensure your survival. Only a well made plan and a proper execution of the plan will safely get you to your bug out location and your bug out bag will increase your likelihood of survival. So, let’s see the top ten mistakes.
#1 Buying the bug out bag first
This is an intuitive mistake to make and the most common. You think ‘’it’s a bug out bag…the most important think is the bag right?’’ and there is truth in that but you want to take that decision appropriately, with as much information about what are you going to put into it as you possibly can. The first thing you need to know is how much stuff you are going to put in your bug out bag, how big it needs to be. My first advice is to put your kit together first then buy the bag. Assess what are the things you need to bring with you and buy the bag that’s going to fit all that stuff properly and work well for you. If you buy the bug out bag first you’ll have the tendency to fill it up to the gills and then is way too heavy or you buy one that is too small and is not going to fit everything that you need. My second advice is to avoid buying your bug out bag on the internet without having any experience with it. Get out there and try as many different bags as possible. Don’t buy bug out bags for your wife and kids. Let them pick out their own. The bag may seem very comfortable for you but may be very uncomfortable and cause pains and discomfort for your kids or wife. The point here is that a bag that doesn’t fit and ride well can cause you injuries and certainly not going to help you at all. Buy smart…first put your kit together than buy the bag.
#2 Your bug out bag is too tactical
I made this mistake too. Your bug out bag is not an assault bag. If you walk out your front door in a bug out situation looking like a marine, then you got some issues with your bug out bag. If you’re all dressed in camouflage and you have a big tactical military bag on your back, an AR 15 in your hands and a shotgun strapped to the side…trust me…that’s not the way. The whole key of bugging out is that you need to blend in. Most preppers live in urban and suburban areas, so you want to blend in with that as much as possible. If you look, for instance, at special forces Navy Seals in Afghanistan most of the times you see them they’re gonna be wearing indigenous clothing, growing beards and hair to blend in. You want to keep a low profile and avoid getting involved in conflicts. I’m not saying you don’t have to take any tactical gear with you. Prepping is like life, everything within moderation. Surplus military equipments are great deals, durable and there’s no problem working some of that into your gear. Certainly you want to have a firearm with you by all means, a concealed carry weapon or something. The blending in with the society is your number one rule.
#3 Your bug out bug is ‘’to bushcraft’’
I call this the Bear Grills syndrome. I am all for bushcraft, survival techniques, survival skills. For the long term skills become very valuable and can really save lives if you run out of supplies. Regularly, when you see bug out bags that are relying too heavily on bushcraft and survival skills they don’t have nearly enough solid life preserving equipment in them…not enough food, not enough water to get them from point A to point B or from safe to safer to safest as quickly as possible. It’s a dangerous assumption to make that you’re going to get everything you need along the way. There are going to be others that think the same as you, so don’t just assume that you’re gonna be that one to do it, you’re gonna be the one that’s gonna make it, you’re gonna be the one that’s gonna survive. If anything goes wrong out there you’ll have nothing to fall back on. So that bug out bag should be able to sustain you for the amount of time that it takes to get to your bug out location.
#4 No strategy
Plan your movement strategy in advance. Practice your bug out. Choose your main route and always have a backup route. Practice it with your family so that when something happens and disaster strikes you’re out and you’re on your way to get to your safe place as quickly as you can get. The best way to do that is to know where you’re going, how you’re gonna get there and be well practiced in knowing how long is going to take, knowing exactly what you’re gonna need along the way. If things go wrong you do have your bug out bag to help you out but you’re main goal is to get from point A in point B as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that once you leave your house you have voluntarily made yourself a refugee, a well prepared refugee but still a refugee and you want to be in that situation for a shorter time as humanly possible.
#5 You’re out of shape
If you’re not in shape and after 1 mile you’re no longer able to walk it doesn’t really matter what’s in your bug out bag. This could kill you and your family by slowing them too. Remember that your main goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Having to spend more time on the way to your bug out location could mean more problems. If you have not practiced with your bag and you cannot carry your bag then you missed the point of bugging out. Test your bag in week-ends. Take 10-15 miles hikes with your bag to see if it fits you well, if it is too heavy or injures you. Involve all your family testing them too, otherwise you’ll have to face all these problems when you really need to get to your bug out location and the bag will become a problem instead of helping you to get there safe.
#6 ‘’Lone wolf’’ mentality
This is a mentality that permeates a lot in the prepping community. Don’t assume you’re going to be alone. I see this mentality especially in survivalists. Chances are you’re not going to be alone. If you react to disaster like everybody else you might be going the same way everybody else is going and you’re not going to be by yourself so you have to deal with that. Especially if you have a family with you don’t assume that you can compensate for them in a disaster. They have to be involved too. So if you’re a prepper and you need to do a bug out bag then they need to do it too and if you’re going to practice then they need to do it too. They need to know what is going on, how to get there, they need to know exactly how to react in different scenarios. So you’re not a lone wolf, you’re not going to be alone because your family is going to be with you. That is the first reason we prep, to keep the loved ones safe.
#7 No info in your bug out bag
I carry in my bug out bag an envelope with all the crucial info that I need in case TSHTF. Many preppers forget or don’t even think about this aspect. This envelop contains all the relevant information that I need. Let’s assume that the house catches fire and you have to leave immediately I will have information that I can use to help get our lives back together as quickly as possible. So let’s see what this envelope contains:
Family pictures, bank accounts, insurance info, credit cards info, photo copies of birth, wedding certificates, car titles, ID, driver license and the big thing that not many think to include…a contact list. This contact list should include:
- family members phone numbers
- friends and important people phone number and addresses
- important phone numbers and addresses
You really want to have that info with you the whole time, it’s lite and easy to carry. You’ll be surprised to know how many people don’t have this info in their bug out bag.
#8 No money in your bug out bag
Common wisdom dictates that you should have between 400 and 500 dollars in your bug out bag in small bills, a little bit of change wouldn’t be a bad idea, a little gold and silver. So cash is a very important part of your kit. Keep that in mind.
#9 No means to repair your bag
I like to keep this as a separate kit in my bag. And I’m not talking about a little sewing kit here but I’m talking about a specific kit to repair your bag. This kit should include extra strap material, buckles and things like that for your bag, heavy duty high quality patching material, needle and high quality thread. If you have a synthetic bag you can use the adhesive patches. They work really well. You want to make sure to add some safety pins in case your zipper fails. Keep all this stuff as a separate kit in your bug out bag so you can reach to it fast in case you need it. In case your bug out bag brakes and you can’t carry your stuff is not going to do you any good.
#10 Not enough first aid for your stomach
Everybody has a first aid kit in their bug out bag, and most people concentrate on tourniquets and trauma, broken bones and gunshot wounds and preventing infections and things like that, but in reality you’ll have the biggest issues with your stomach. The stress of a bug out situation alone can cause you stomach and digestive issues. In many situations, you can have a bad case of diarrhea, vomiting or constipation. What I like to see in a bug out bag is fiber pills and the individually packed fiber drink mixes. Those are really good in keeping you fiber intake up and your gut happy J.You can add Pepto-Bismol, Imodium AD ( ad a good quantity in case you’ll have a sever diarrhea) , ginger tablets for nausea. Diarrhea, vomiting, constipation are all things that can incapacitate you very quickly and can kill you in a couple of days so keep a good amount of these medicines in your bug out bag. You want to make sure that you have means to help yourself in those situations, things that can keep you on the track, moving forward to your bug out location as quickly as possible.
I hope that this article was helpful for you and you learned something. Feel free to comment in the section bellow if you have any other suggestions or if you have anything else to add.
‘’By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’’ – Benjamin Franklin
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One Reply to “10 Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Can Get You Killed”
#1 is VERY important! I found these two oversized backpacks on eBay and I was really excited about my find. I sat it in the floor as I loaded it with all the stuff I had on the bed to put in….
Then I tried to put it on and I could not even lift it. I tried sitting on the floor and once I had it on in place I could not get up off the floor! I could not even drag it. I had just about everything including the kitchen sink in my over zealousness to “be prepared”. The back pack weighed 60 lbs full. My husband pointed out that I can barely carry a 10 lb bag of potatoes let alone 60 lbs! Ok… So lesson learned!?