Updated: Jul 17
What are they and do you need one?
So, I’m assuming you read our piece on being prepared? If not go and take a look at that first… Ok so now we’ve convinced you that being prepared is sensible and were not going all “Doomsday Preppers” on you… if you’ve ever done a bit of online searching around survival, being prepared or yes for fun the zombie apocalypse… you would have come across the terms “Bugging Out”, Bug Out Bags or BOB’s and even “Bug Out” vehicles!
There does seem to be a group who have decided should the proverbial hit the fan they are going to jump in their camo painted 4x4, grab their weapons and BOB’s and escape to the woods! However, for those of us a bit better grounded in reality we know that this could only ever be a short-term plan. No one is going to disappear and live in the woods forever, and as the world stands right now, I can’t see a reason too (sadly no zombie apocalypse is on the horizon). However, that’s not to say that the skills to be self-sufficient, to be able to survive and thrive in the back country for a short time and having a plan for when things go wrong ( as 2020 has shown us things can go quite drastically wrong) is not useful or that the idea of a “bug out Bag’ is crazy. Far from it.
Much like what we said on being prepared, stop for a minute and see past what you consider to be crazy or eccentric and let’s look at some real-world examples of a “Bug Out” or “Get Home” bag.
If you travel internationally do you like many, pack your hand luggage so that should you be separated from your main bags you can cope for a few days? Wash kit, electrical charging leads, spare batteries, battery pack, first aid, meds, maybe 3 days’ worth of underwear and a change of clothes, ID, laptop or tablet, water bottle etc? Also, it’s worth having back up cash hidden in this bag as not everywhere in the world takes plastic! Those travellers stuck abroad as nations locked down for coronavirus would testify that you should consider your carry-on kit wisely as being stuck in a foreign airport for a week is not for winners!
In Winter do you stick an old bag in the boot of your car with sleeping bag or blanket, some snack bars, torch, warm hat, flask etc? Oh and an old school map book of the UK in case your tech gives up?
For those of us with a military and private security background we will have had a ‘Blow Out, Grab Bag, Bolt Bag or Bug out Bag” all these terms for the same thing – a bag or small pack packed ready for ditching a larger pack, getting away from a disabled vehicle , evacuation or moving at short notice.
Even running expeditions in some of the more austere parts of the world where local rule of law is not always certain, political situations may be fluid, there may be higher risk of natural disaster or your just very remote we will always have grab bags packed and ready to move with enough essential items to survive, communicate, treat injuries and look after the priorities of survival. Even day to day on exped it is our SOP for instructors to not move away from camp without their exped survival kit so this in itself could be considered a “Grab Bag”.
So a few examples but all built around the short term need to move to stay safe .In almost all cases it going to be a case of either getting yourself home or relocating to another safe place such as a family members property, UK embassy, the airport etc rather than moving to the wilderness to start your best impression of the Swiss Family Robinson.
We can’t dismiss that side of things altogether however, depending on your geographic location and the situation it may be beneficial to be able to move into the countryside for a short period, allowing whatever issue it is to die down then return home when the trouble has passed. Or you may live in a very rural environment and moving to your nearest neighbour’s property or getting home may involve extended wilderness travel on foot. (This is where those land nav skills come into play – because you can use a map and compass can’t you?).
Whether you need a “Bug Out” bag or a “Get Home “ bag is defined by your personal circumstances, threats we may realistically face such as pandemic, fire, civil unrest, storms etc may need us to be ready to relocate to keep ourselves and family safe so having a bag packed may be a good idea, it doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, most of the components you will already own, what is more important than any gear is having a plan..Why not have a look at your location, routines (commute, working away from home etc), future travel plans and what may be a likely or realistic reason to have to move from home or work then tailor your preparations to suit.
As usual any questions then please do give us a shout, between us were a mix of adventurers, expedition guides, travellers, ex-military, law enforcement and private security if we can’t answer your questions we will know someone in our network who can.
Author: Marc Cherry, Maddog Adventures