Planning a bugout camp means looking at your situation on all levels. A million scenarios can play out. It can be easy to get distracted and miss out on small but important factors. This post is going to cover a lot. I hope it helps you consider your situation and improve your plan or even get started planning your permanent bug out location or how to settle on where to camp each night if you plan on being nomadic.
Everyone has unique factors to consider when it comes to a bug out camp plan. There is no one size fits all strategy. Conditions can change rapidly.
Rural Versus Urban
It is possible to be the grey man no matter where you live however the approach you take is going to be somewhat different. I actually have little experience living in an actual town let alone a big city. I think some of the basic considerations are the same but in an urban situation, there can be a lot of nooks an crannies to hide in so to speak.
There are a lot more people to compete with for supplies and only so many routes to get supplies in. With a large starting population, any incoming supplies may not actually make it very far with so many desperate people along the incoming route.
Abandoned buildings, large warehouses, and other locations could be places of refuge but staying under the radar in an urban area seems like it would be challenging for even a single person, let alone a family. The density and potential for running out of supplies quickly in urban areas is part of why so many people plan on getting out if there is the potential for long-term problems.
Rural locations have their issues as well. Not having anyone around to help out with defense and being far away from any potential resupply points can be troublesome. If you haven’t had a chance to get out and experience roughing it in the bush, it might take awhile to get adjusted.
Access to Water and Vulnerability
You can deal with a pretty contaminated source of water if you have a good filter. You need to be able to get to water in a reasonable amount of time. At the same time, you do not want to set up camp too close to a major go to point for water if you want to avoid major interaction with others.
If you are really far out in the bush then this might not matter as much. You do need to keep in mind that places that were once low traffic could become more heavily trafficked in a SHTF scenario. If good water points are limited than you might find that people use these spots to attempt to ambush others. This is an old trick. Water spots and places where they were boiling water to get salt were extremely dangerous during the old days.
Defensive Positions and Deteriorating Conditions
During tough times you do not want to let your guard down. The longer an emergency situation lasts the greater the chance that anyone left is going to turn to violent acts or become desperate and do things they never thought possible. It is amazing just how far this can go.I actually have a hard time reading some historical accounts of what can happen.
There is a reason everyone seems to be using the catch-all term and euphemism ” Zombies.” This just means people that are at the end of their endurance and will do whatever they have to do to save themselves. At this point, some may have forsaken their own and just really care about themselves.
You want the type of visibility that allows you the advantage. You want to see but not be seen.
Access To Food Supply
This is a tricky one because it can vary so much based on the following factors.
Resources at hand. How much food do you have? Can you make it to a better or safer place to resupply? Do you have supplies, skills, or resources to offer others in exchange? While I think you should have at least two weeks of food on you for bugging out if at all possible, at some point you are going to need to find a source of supplies. You might be able to extend how long you can stay in the bush by knowing how to forage.
The viability of foraging during a SHTF scenario depends on overall availability at the time of the event and as time goes on, how others react to the event.
If times get tough, the game and wild forage can become a lot more scarce. We live in a world where there seems to be plenty.The population we can support during good or what is considered normal times is not what we can support if it comes down to having to find a portion of your food or grow it yourself.
Semi-Permanent Versus One Night Camp
If you are far out in the bush and it seems like there is not another soul around then you might risk setting up a temp one night camp in a place that would be unsuitable for a long-term camp. That first night on the trail you may have experienced trauma or stressful circumstances that mean you cannot physically make it to a better location. Fatigue can kill so if you feel like you need to stop and there seems to be no truly imminent danger than this might be a good plan.
Joining Up With Others: Yes or No?
During a SHTF scenario, there is strength in numbers but you must be careful about who you trust. During hard times people might be a little more sly and willing to do you wrong if they think you have something to offer them.
On the other hand, if you can find some likeminded and similarly prepared individuals or even a place where they are more prepared and need help then you might think about your options. A long-term emergency could be a tough go alone but you also don’t want to be part of a group that is going to take advantage.If that happens, then slipping off into the night and starting again on your own may be the best scenario.
Fire Safety & Exposing Your Position
While the danger of wildfire is something to consider you also need to think about how it will attract attention.The aspect that you set your camp up at can help but for times like this you may consider only cooking at night or possibly having some clean-burning fuel for your survival stove on hand.
The smells of cooking food and smoke can attract unwanted attention.Those first few days out you may want to try to avoid any food cooking if you suspect others are around that you don’t want to attract the attention of. The other side of this is that there may be others that feel the same way you do and want to avoid any contact so even if they have something to tell them someone is in the area, they might avoid you as much as they can.
Dogs At A Bug Out Camp
There are two ways to look at having a dog with you. First off they are an asset in terms of protection and alerting you to any encroachments into your area. They also offer companionship and morale support. The negatives are that the barking can alert others to your presence too.
You also have to have a way to feed and support a dog in your survival situation. The smell and scent marking/urination a dog does can help repel unwanted wildlife from your camp as well which is a major bonus. Dog survival kits and bug out bags can be put together a little at a time and customized to suit your dog’s needs.
I love dogs but some breeds and mixes are just not suited to roughing it for too long. Consider that most of the breeds out there are actually very modern creations that have enjoyed a level of luxury that old and ancient breeds did not.
The right type of dog could be an asset as a hunting dog for small game. This could benefit you both by providing some extra protein for you as well as making it easier to feed your dog in the wild.
Aspect: What direction should your camp face?
The way your camp faces and its location can help protect you from inclement weather. As I type this I am in a deep holler in our woods.It is sunny and warm but if I walk to the ridge it is substantially colder and unpleasantly windy. Putting your semi-permanent or temporary camp in a protected spot can significantly increase your comfort and sometimes your chances of survival, especially if overtaken by a major storm.
No one knows how warm or pleasant it is going to be when bugging out.This means you have to plan for all seasons if you want to be truly prepared for whatever nature throws at you.
You can get away with camping most anywhere during the warmer parts of the year but do not be fooled into thinking you can not suffer or even die from exposure when it is 60 degrees and raining and you get wet and cannot get warm.
I live in the Southeast and sometimes you get conditions where it seems fairly warm but if you get caught out unprepared on the trail and get wet, the situation can be very dire.
Mountainous terrain can harbor danger in that you can find different weather from one side to the other or even the next holler over. When I look outside sometimes in the winter I see the community that is just a mile from us totally blanketed in snow for a day or two after it has melted off entirely from our south-facing slope.
Knowing When To Move your Camp
While I know that weight is a factor when bugging out, I think that in some scenarios, a small set of binoculars would be a major asset. You can climb a tree or use another vantage point to spot trouble. Forest fire is a real danger, especially if you have truly taken to the bush and get a dry period of weather.
When more people are in the woods and trying to cook, heat water, etc, there is an increased risk of fire. During a survival situation, no one is going to be as likely to go by the rulebook when it comes to using fire.
Heating up food and water takes fuel. Even if you have a few fuel canisters on hand to get you through times when fire is not the path you want to take, there will come a time when you need something else.
Some areas have more renewable fuel available than others. Dried and downed wood is a big help but at the very least you need some access to wood that you can cut and dry if you are setting up a more long-term camp. Below is a stove that I discovered from Camp Chef that offers you the ability to heat a space, cook, and even heat water if you buy the water jacket.
Camp Chef Alpine Stove
Moving Around A Lot: Advantages & Disadvantages
Moving around a lot can help when it comes to avoiding detection or anyone looking too closely at who you are and what you have. If you are in a family group it can be harder to move around especially if you have young kids that can only make so much in a day or need you to literally carry them.
A permanent or semi-permanent camp may be best if conditions are harsh.Moving around a lot during frigid temps might not be the best idea if you can establish a good base camp and create some structures that help to protect from the weather.
There is something to the lyrics “Summertime and the living is easy”. Major nomadic efforts are best done when it is easier to get by in general. From a historical perspective, it commands my attention that basically all of the major battle campaigns are fought during the warmer part of the year regardless of location.
Be Open To Strategical Changes
Circumstances can change rapidly and that means you need to be open to changing your strategy accordingly. Always try to be as aware of what is going on as you can.As someone that regularly beats themselves up over being distracted and missing things, I understand how difficult this can be when you have a lot to deal with already. It may actually be easier when you know you are in a situation and know that you need to be on top of your game.
Planning A Staged Bug Out Location
This section is for those that have some land bought or are looking to buy so they can have a retreat to go to during an emergency or disaster.
Remote is a relative term. There are a few places in the USA still that you can get a property that is away from a major town. There are a few things to keep in mind though when planning a long-term permanent bug out location.
How long can you last with the supplies you have? What comes after that?
How many supplies are you prepared to have? Regardless of how well stocked you are, you will eventually need to be able to get somewhere to buy more stuff. This can be a challenge if you are very far out.
Mailorder is not going to be reliable, possibly for a very long time. Supplies could also become more scarce in some parts of the country rather than others. Are you going to be where you are at the end of the supply chain?
I know where I live we are the last on the line to get gas when pipelines break. That is why we go out and fill up our truck and get a 5 gallon can of gas when something happens like that. You can beat the crowds. I am not saying you need to go out and hoard all of something in an emergency but a little extra to get through for a little while is alright.
There are challenges to be met in any climate but those that are bugging out into a climate that has extreme cold and a short growing season seem to have it worst. It takes a lot of fuel and food to stay warm and fed. Hot climate challenges can include drought, parasites, and increased chance of infection and disease.
Is your camp close enough that any mass exodus from a nearby city might cause you trouble?
Stocking A Remote Camp or Cabin
Proper storage of supplies at a remote site can be a challenge if you don’t keep temps controlled. Bugs and wildlife can also make it challenging. The shelf life of your preps is very dependent on how you store them. Don’t expect more perishable items like foods that contain meat or dairy to last near the shelf life they claim if you don’t have control over the temperatures. There are some storage containers that can be buried but I recommend having a system for remembering where you stashed them.
MTM SAC Survivor Ammo Can
If your camp or cabin is not somewhere that you are frequently at then you may be at risk for theft or vandalism. I live in an area that is full of second or third homes. While some people may rent these out sometimes on AirBnB there are plenty of homes that sit empty for many months of the year.There are security firms that specialize in just checking in sometimes. Of course, these places also have security systems as often as not.
Chances are your bug out location is not going to have much in the way of security except for maybe some perimeter fencing, gates, and distance from people. Being off the road a good bit certainly helps prevent major robberies. Thieves like to have a good getaway route when at all possible.
Approaching Your Camp Armed Is Advisable In A SHTF Scenario
I try to avoid taking chances when it comes to safety. I recommend having a firearm where you can get to it quickly when approaching your staged bug out location. You do not want to go in unarmed and discover that someone has got into your place and is staying there or in the process of stealing your supplies. Hard times get people doing bad things.
If you have stashed firearms and ammo at your location, then someone could be in there and well armed. Approach with caution and observe everything you can. Don’t just rush in the door. If you have someone with you then have them cover you until you see it is safe.
Hopefully, you have a spring or creek at the very least.If not then above ground water that is very close is a factor you need to consider. Hauling water is something I am very familiar with and it can get old fast regardless of age or ability.
How are you getting there?
The distance you have to travel to get to your bug out location is an important consideration. You need to have a plan on how to get there. It is best to have several alternative routes thought out as well. If the shortest route takes you through a city center then ask yourself what way could you go to avoid it. A good road atlas or map of your area can be a big help. During SHTF, I would not want to rely solely on GPS to navigate. It might be nice if you have it but a paper copy is a good backup to have.
Your method of transportation to your location is also critical to consider, especially if you have a family that will be coming along. A single person in decent shape can cover some ground but a group of different ages and ability levels is going to go a lot slower. There are a lot of bug out vehicle choices when it comes to transportation.
Check out my post on Alternative Bug Out Transportation for some ideas. Remember that you may even want to have several transport options. For example, you may drive so far in your car and then use an inflatable boat to get the rest of the way. Maybe your plan is to get in a boat and then make it to your storage facility where you have a motorcycle? There are countless scenarios and plans one can paint in one’s mind. Bug out transportation plans are very much something that must be tailored to each situation. There is no perfect transport option for everyone.
Don’t Expect Your Family To Be Mind Readers Or Be Prodigies: Teach Them Survival NOW!
I see a lot of comments on Facebook where one spouse or partner is not on board with prepping and planning for major catastrophes. Kids and teens are sometimes left entirely out of the plan.
I have also heard still others say that they are divorced so kids spend half their time with one and a half with the other and the other person is not okay with them spending much time learning survival skills or being out in the bush. Family situations can sure get complicated!
I am getting into this because of you may be great at prepping and have a lot of skills, be in decent shape, have a bag all put together that you know like the back of your hand, etc. but that doesn’t mean you can expect everyone to operate smoothly and know how to do stuff unless they are shown. During stressful or high stakes times is not the time that you want to be showing them something for the first or second time. Learning to do anything well takes time.
Convincing the Skeptics
If you have some family members that skeptical about learning, explain to them that they don’t have to be experts at any one skill but some basic knowledge and supplies can save them in a bad situation like a natural disaster. There is a stereotype about “tin hat conspiracy theorists” that can make some think that every prepper is doing it due to the government. This is far from true.
I have been in a few natural disasters and that alone is enough to convince me that prepping is worth it for anyone.
Just look at the situation in Puerto Rico and the challenges that they are still facing. The Puerto Rico hurricane disaster made a lot of people consider just how prepared they actually are.
Have you given a lot of thought to bug out camp planning? Have you bought land specifically to have a getaway? What steps have you taken to show your family the skills they need to have? I am sure there are plenty of strategies and things to consider that could be added to this post. Please comment if you think of any important factors that I have missed!