Bugging Out to “The Woods”?

Very often people’s plan involves “Bugging Out”. When someone inquires where they will be going a few different answers pop up. My Bug Out Location (B..O.L.), my (insert family member’s relationship)’s place, and the woods are some very popular answers. Let’s take a look at these three examples.

If you plan to head out to your Bug Out location, you are possibly the best off. This means that you should have provisions in place there such as shelter, food, water and defenses. Since this is your place, it will provide legitimacy to you being there. Until an emergency comes, you can keep people from encroaching onto it via law enforcement if need be.  Having this ahead of time allows you to improve the property by clearing trees, planting desirable crops, stocking a pond with fish, and possibly building a cabin. This will put you miles ahead of others because you will be used to living there and know the property. You will just have to defend it from any that may come to try and claim it for their own.

The second option is that you are heading to a friend or family member’s location. Hopefully if you are, this option has been planned in advance.  This is not a bad option either, but leaves you less in control. It is advisable to provide some help to that person before things go sideways. Help them build their cabin, improve the land. harvest crops, or whatever else they need. This will not only show your worth, but will also acquaint you with the area. If things get really bad, they may be forced to pick and choose who stays. You want to be on that short list. You might even be lucky enough that there is enough acreage and that they are fine if you set up a camp there of your own. That way you could make some decisions on location, contents and defense.  They legally do have the final say in what happens on that land though. A great benefit of this setup  is that you are part of a group to defend this location.

The third option of the woods, mountains, desert, etc. is a very risky plan. This is why this plan needs to be very thought out. Have you ever tried to find a secluded fishing location on a relatively popular lake? Chances are you will find someone already there, someone will show up while you are there, or you just got really lucky with timing. Chances are if you have looked over a place to bug out to, others have looked at it too. Deciding to bug out to land you do not own, like public land, prevents you from doing much preparation ahead of time. It also prevents you from having any legal hold on that land. Even if things are bad, park rangers and such may still be on the job attempting to remove squatters. If everyone that says they are going there ends up there, the resources will be depleted in no time. It actually takes a rather large piece of land to sustain a person by hunting and foraging. When the resources become scarce, people will turn on others either to gain their supplies or out of sheer frustration. No sane person wants to be in the woods fighting with hundreds of other hungry people. This warning can also be extended to urban areas. If you have picked the perfect location to hold up and the perfect places to scavenge, then others have them in mind too. Even if you get there first, there is no guarantee you can hold it.

Remember when planning that in the worst situations having a solid thought out plan that can be implemented quickly is important. It may be the only thing that keeps you from getting lost in the sea of those that are not prepared.

The “It’s Only a Dollar” Kit

Cheap kits have been done before and will be done again. That being said, a trip to the local “Everything’s a $1” type store was done to put Level 1 of the financial side of planning into practice. It is important to remember that being prepared does not require a lot of money if you are willing to put in time in exchange. This might simply be the only level of kit you can afford at the moment. If so, then it is much better than empty pockets in an emergency. Some of the items bought will be used as is, but a few will be re-purposed into something more useful.
The idea behind this plan is to imagine if you were stranded without any gear during an emergency and wanted to spend as little of the cash on hand as possible to build a kit. The remaining cash may have to last you a while, but the kit will also need to be enough to help you out. It is a fine line with an unknown future.

A Bag to Hold it All

In this scenario, the original plan to get the bag last was changed due to the limited selection of bags large enough to hold a kit. This bag can be used on both shoulders or as a sling bag by using the strings as one strap. It will do in a pinch and is not bad for $1.

Water Container

This bottle was chosen due to its volume, the fact it has a handle, and that it has a “snack container” on bottom that could double as a cup.

This aluminum spray bottle was an option if the spray top was removed and replaced with a 2 liter bottle cap. This would have allowed water to be boiled directly in it. It was not chosen because of its very small size and the fact that attaching a strap would be more difficult.

A metal bowl was added to allow boiling of water and possible meal preparation. It fits in the bag with other items nestled in it.


This kit is light on food purposefully. It would be easy to stock up on food for a few more bucks at the store, but there are lots of variables based on how far you need to travel, the exact emergency, and personal preference.  In this real instance, storage is the worry. These cans were only a $1 for both.  They would be easy to ration out and do not require heating or water. The cans are also pop-top so they do not need a can opener and the can could be reused for other things.

A 2 pack of spoons was picked up since utensils are necessary when you may not have the ability to clean you hands well. The spoons can always be boiled to disinfect them. Hygiene can be a major concern in a bad situation.


This 4 by 6 tarp is enough along with some cordage to make a usable shelter. It will not be the Ritz, but it can keep you dry and help you stay warm.  It is also light and fits well into the bag.

This cotton twine is 420 foot so that leaves you plenty to use for shelter construction and anything else you may need. It could also be used as fire tinder if you frayed out a piece.

A section of the twine was used to braid a lanyard for the drink bottle above.


Fire is very important for warmth, boiling water, cooking food, and morale. This pack of lighters should last a very long time. Disposable lighters are always good choice. Even if you have more ways to make fire, why go the hard route until you need to?

Paired with the lighters we have cotton balls and petroleum jelly (not pictured but bought). This combination makes great fire starters. The cotton balls could also be used to clean wounds or as part of a charcoal filter setup. The petroleum jelly can be used as chap stick or to cover abrasions.


In addition to the cotton balls and petroleum jelly above,  a box of band-aids and a tube of triple antibiotic ointment were picked up. The ointment could be used in the place of the petroleum jelly for fire starting. Due to the small amount in the tube, it was reserved for medical only. This the barest bones of a first aid kit, but is a beginning.


Unless you can build torches, a light is needed if you plan to travel at night. This flashlight and a pack of batteries fit the bill and should last a while since the batteries contain enough for over 2 sets for the flashlight.


A two pack of bandannas give you a head covering, dust mask, large particle filter, or anything else you can thing of. One could also be fashioned into a pad to use with the water bottle lanyard. That would keep the lanyard from causing issues on your shoulder after you fill the bottle.

Gloves are not just for warmth. In an emergency, you may end up dealing with debris or broken glass. Gloves help to protect you from injury. Injury is the last thing needed in a situation where you have no medical assistance and limited hygiene.


A knife is a necessity. This was a medium, sized one. The larger butcher knives and serrated steak knives were passed over in favor of a plain edge. This will be easier to sharpen in less than ideal conditions. The plastic handle is not perfect, but is slightly textured to allow for a good grip surface.

Why is a cell phone case included? There was a plan for it. Keep reading.

The cell phone case had a slit cut in the top of the pouch flap. That hole was reinforced with duct tape. The foam that came in the pouch was left in there for rigidity. Then the entire case was tightly wrapped with twine. This protects the thin plastic case and could be used for cordage.

The clip on the back was left outside the wrap to allow it to be attached to your belt. Now you have a sheath that is much sturdier than a piece of cardboard. In addition, the top of the pouch was left so the knife handle can be pushed partially in. This keeps the knife snug.


Duct tape was included for general use. It was used on the knife sheath. It can be used to repair your bag, hold cotton balls on larger wounds, cutproof the palm of your gloves, or tape the bottom of your pant legs closed to prevent ticks from getting in.

Trash bags can be converted to a poncho, used to carry water, make into a shelter or ground cover, or hung to create a screen to conceal you. This is a pack of 7 so it gives you some options.



The above list totaled $20 before tax. It is a good basic kit. There are other items that could be added, but space in the bag was a concern and a limit had to be set somewhere. For most anyone, $20 is a reasonable amount to begin with.

Using the $1 store is just one example of using time instead of money. You could also visit thrift shops or garage sales. Both of these places can be great both for complete items or parts that you can use to assemble something useful. If you are shrewd, you might even be able to buy items to resell. The profit from that could be used to buy other items you cannot get from these sales. It all comes down to how hard you want to work to enact your plan to be prepared.

Survival Planning is like 7 Layer Dip

Ever had 7 Layer Dip? It seems like there are a million iterations of the 7 layers. They may have some layers in common, but each one is slightly different. Your emergency and survival planning should be done the same way.

There is no one plan that fits everyone. The desired end result is the same though. So don’t take someone’s idea of “the perfect plan” as fact. Take into account unique factored in your life. Do you have small children, elderly family members, special medical needs, or unique geophapical concerns? Factors like these will color the plan you choose.

Planning to “bug out” or “bug in” may be one of the first areas where you have to take factors like these into account . The health and age of your party members will greatly affect the speed and distance you can travel. Even if you have a vehicle, this can still be the case, though it is much more pronounced if you are on foot. If the area you are in is relatively safe or can be made so, then “bugging in” may be the best bet if you have these concerns. On top of this you know the area and can use that home court advantage. Also, you should  have many more supplies than you could carry on your back at home. While stuffing them in the car is an option, you may find yourself abandoning a large percentage of them if your vehicle is incompassitated or the roads impassible.

Special factors will also dictate what supplies you need to stock beyond the essentials. If you have small children, powdered formula, baby food, and short and long term diaper plans will be a necessity. Medications to treat gas, teething pain, and digestive issues will be very helpful too.  Also forms of entertainment can be a necessity with children. On the other side, you may need a stock of prescribed medications, and vitamins if you have elderly members. A special diet could also be in order if anyone is diabetic or has particular allergies.

Any special geographical concerns should heavily be taken into account. Do you live in an area frequented by hurricanes or tornadoes? This plan will differ greatly from one based in an area that has frequent and deep snows. If you live in an area that frequently floods, you will need to take steps to waterproof your supplies. Road salt and tire chains are not much use in a hurricane, but can make a huge difference on icy winter roads. Similarly, a canoe and materials to board up windows make little sense in a snowstorm, but mean life or death in a hurricane.

A good way to begin your planning would be to set down and honestly list out the skills and challenges related to your group members and location. With these in black and white you can look for ways to offset issues.  This may be by storing particular supplies, learning new skills, or devising alterations to your planning.  In the end it is best to remember that you can make up the layers with anything you like, as long as it works for you.


Basic Survival Skills

Whether preparing for a disaster in the middle of New York City or on the top of a remote mountain, there are some skills you need to prepare. These skills form the basis of your personal survival plan.

Fire Starting:

Fire is your friend in a survival suituation. It provides you warmth, light, a way to prepare food, and a sense of hope. While you can purify water via other means, fire can be the most accessible. It also requires no special equipment. Be sure that you know multiple ways to start a fire.  Bow drill, flint and steel, ferro rod, and magnifying glass are all viable methods.

Water Purification:

While fire will help you purify water, you should be familiar with multiple ways. Sometimes it may not be viable to build a fire due to security or movement. There are commercial filters and chemical treatments, but ther are also D. I. Y. solutions. A few drops of bleach in a gallon of water and it will be purified of most pathogens after sitting a bit. The small amount of bleach is not harmful to drink. An improvised filter made from a bottle, charcoal, and cloth is better than nothing.

First Aid:

The ability to apply basic first aid to yourself or members of your group is essential. Cleaning and dressing minor wounds, stopping bleeding, splinting sprains, and caring for burns are a few items that fall into this category. While more advanced skills would be helpful, they ae not for everyone. Some that would be helpful would be suturing (stitches), field setting broken bones, re-setting dislocated joints, and tourniquet application. Not only are these skills useful for you and your group, you can barter these skills with others.

Hunting and Gathering:

Being a master hunter or knowing every single plant in your hemisphere is beyond most people’s time allotment. It is very good to have a basic level of skill in hunting, trapping, and gathering. Study and practice of basic traps, simple hunting skills, and plant identification will give you a great basis to allow you to feed yourself after your stock of suppleis run out.

Barter Skills

It has been said before that knowledge weighs nothing when discussing Bug Out Bags and the survival. This is very true in this sense, but this knowledge and skills can go far beyond this. In a Red Level scenario you will need much more than you could ever stockpile. This is where these skills can really come into play.

One way these can be used is to become part of a team or community. People banding together will be looking for some type of value in those they allow in. Those with valuable skills and a willingness to contribute will be welcomed in.  Someone seen only as a warm body that can only do the most basic labor will seem more like dead weight.

The second way these skills can benefit you is directly as a bartering item. If you do not find a group, you can trade this skilled labor for other things you may need. This could be anything from a single meal up to room and board for the duration of your work. It all depends on what you need and the others have to offer.

There are several skillsets that jump to mind when discussing skills to barter in a emergency situation. Medical knowledge, food preservation experience, animal husbandry experience, and mechanical skill. These skill sets do not have to be at an expert level, but you you should be proficient. For instance medical knowledge does not mean being a doctor or even a paramedic. It can mean that you have taken first aid courses, first responder training, know types of medications to use, or have studied natural remedies. Naturally the deeper this skill goes, the more it may be worth to others.

Food preservation and animal husbandry come to mind because they are skills that have fallen out of use in many areas. These skills will be needed when the grid is a down indefinately and no more refrigerated food trucks deliver today’s dinner in the nick of time. With this you can assist with producing food stores. This can be as simple as canning vegetables or as complex as keeping the herd of cattle alive. Both are food for the future. The cattle are simply beef “on the hoof” until they are needed. The upside is that they can reproduce and generate more food via calves or milk.

Mechanical skill is a very wide set. It can vary from construction experience up to all types of engineering. With the construction experience you can design and build structures, repair existing ones, and fortify if necessary. This is not as simple as “I built a bird house..once.” There needs to be enough experience that you know the good ideas from the bad. As far as engineering, this can range from equipment repair, to manufacturing, to extensive architectural design. This can be a great help for people’s survival.  Vehicles need upkeep and guns need repaired. Systems to provide clean water, alternate fuels, or localized electricity need to be designed, manufactured, and installed.

While these barter skills may not come into play immediately in a disaster,  they can be the key to long term survival. And that is the key to rebuilding. So be certain that you carry with you more than a full backpack when disaster strikes.

Is your car ready for the cold?

If you are not ready for the cold that is coming to many parts of the U. S., now is the time to prepare. This may seem like the most basic level, but something as simple as a small bag of supplies can be a literal life saver if you get stranded.

Some items seem pretty standard to keep in your trunk in the winter. A sturdy pair of shoes, a blanket, extra warm clothes, a flashlight, and a small amount of food and water. These will help you in the event your car breaks down whether you need to stay put or walk to get help.

If you are stranded and can’t leave your vehicle, there are some additional items that can come in handy. A candle with matches and/or lighter is one. A simple candle can warm the air in your car several degrees. Just be sure to crack a window to allow more air in as the candle uses up oxygen. If handled properly it is safer than running the car which might build up carbon monoxide inside.

A car charger for your cell phone is another item. If your car is not totally disabled, you can charge your phone to call for help. The last thing you want is a dead cellphone when you need it. Depending on the severity of the situation, it can also allow you to occupy yourself and others while you wait for help to arrive.

Some additional items can assist you in helping yourself. A small shovel is one. With it you can clear snow and ice from around your wheels to free them or clear a path to allow you to get moving. A metal one would be prefered. It will serve you better than a plastic one. In addition sand, road salt or non-clumping cat litter can be used to gain traction if you wheels are spinning. If you really want to be self-rescuing, a Come-along tool (here is a well reviewed example: TEKTON 5547 4-Ton Dual Gear Power Puller ) would allow you to possibly winch yourself into a more advantageous position.

The items above are in addition to some items that really should remain in your car all year long. This list includes booster cables, a tow strap or chain, emergency flares, safety reflectors, and a well stocked first aid kit. These items and a little planning can help you to stay safe and on the road all year long.

Happy New Year!

As we begin 2018, lots of people will make resolutions. That is not necessarily a bad thing, if you follow through.

Make the new year a productive one in regards to your planning. Look for ways to expand your knowledge and skills. Whether by taking classes or by trial and error.  First Aid, food preservation, self defense, fire starting, and orienteering (map and compass use) skills are worthy investments that can be used any time.

Make a list of items that you want to add to your supplies and equipment. Then set a plan in place to aquire them as your  budget allows. This can be saving money every week until you have enough for an expensive item or buying a few small items a week until you have as many on hand as you want.

Improving your health is a common resolution for a good reason. Emergency preparedness planning is no different. Whether it be losing weight, building endurance, stopping smoking, or lowering your cholesterol, these all benefit you during an emergency. Having a great plan and equipment is useless if you have a heart attack just carrying a heavy pack.

So make the best of your resolutions and plan for a great 2018. Despite what may come a good plan can make it that way.

Know your disaster.

Knowledge is key. That is an overriding truth in a lot of things you may be involved in.  Fixing a broken pipe? Knowing about plumbing makes it much easier. This can extend to your preparedness too. While there is not a course to teach you more information about certain situations, there is a wealth of information if you examine present and past disasters.

No one has time to research every disaster that has ever happened. You can use your preparation levels to prioritize.  There are things you will already know. If you live in a location that gets extreme blizzards, you have already experienced the issue and can learn from it. This is a pretty basic level. Next you may look into the effects of major flooding that might happen in your area. You may have never experienced it, but may be in a 100 year flood plain.  Take a lesson from those that deal with this much more frequently. For example, some of these people prepared by placing an ax in their attic. This allowed them to chop through and climb onto the roof to await rescue. Quite a good thing if surprised by flash flooding in the middle of the night. Continue to move up the levels to examine situations you want to prepare for.

Some of the disasters that exist on the top of the levels may be a widespread EMP, massive social upheaval, war outbreak, or nuclear attack.  Knowing how to respond to these will greatly increase your chance to survive them. For instance, knowing the signs that point to an EMP will let you respond quicker so that you can be ahead of those that stand around in disbelief trying their cell phones over and over.  Even if this is only a slim margin saved by knowing that modern cars, cell phones, and computer will be useless, this may be enough to get you home.  This will increase your safety level before others begin to panic. Alternately, if caught in a social breakdown, you may have to employ tactics like “The Gray Man” to move out of the worst effected areas. These are just a couple of examples.

This short post cannot cover all the issues and situations you may want to look into. It is simply to provoke thoughts as to the specifics you may need to evaluate as you plan for your levels of survival. Knowledge weighs nothing, yet may be your best tool.

EDC: What’s in your pocket?

Closely behind  Bug Out Bags, discussions of E.D.C. are very popular in emergency preparedness circles. E. D. C. stands for Every Day Carry. These are the items that you have with you at ALL times. These are in your pocket or purse normally. It can extend to include a sling bag or such, but that begins to become questionable. That bag could get left in your car, at your desk, or anywhere that prevents you having it in the event of a sudden emergency.

There are some items people carry without thinking about it. Your phone, keys, and wallet/purse. All this stuff is with you every day. A few small changes can incorporate some possibly life saving items.

First, let’s state that if you plan on flying or going into a government building, you will need to adjust what you are carrying at that time.  What you carry will vary widely based on whether you tromp around in the woods daily or if you are more boardroom than boondocks. The ideas are still the same for all scenarios. You need tools than can be used daily, but also be your first line of defense in an emergency.


It has not been so long since every man, woman, and child carried a knife of some kind. They were used for cutting twine, carving sling shots, peeling apples, and whatever else needed to be done. These were tools, not weapons. This is something that will be essential no matter the nature of the emergency. A basic type can be a small and carried in the pocket. It can be single bladed, multi-bladed, or containing other tools like a Swiss Army Knife. There are also larger fixed blade types that can be carried on your belt. Your daily environment may dictate the type you chose. A folding knife can be concealed easily and is more accepted in many areas. While a Swiss Army or Multitool type offers a lot of extras, the knife itself can be lacking in a lot of these.


The vital skill of making fire has fallen out of common knowledge. That does not mean you have to perfect it before you can be prepared. A simple disposable lighter is one of the most reliable fire starters you can carry. There is nothing wrong with using conveniences like this. The best scenario is to carry a lighter, but also know more traditional methods.


There are many daily situations where a flashlight can be handy. A power outage, finding cables below a desk, and changing a flat tire at night all are easier to deal with when you have a light. A small, but bright pen light fits into most pockets. With led versions, these can be all you need without being heavy and bulky.

Pencil and Pad:

There is a lot of information we need to keep up with each day. Grocery lists, appointment times, numbers, and addresses all need to be written down. Most people can use their phone to store this, but a dead phone negates this. In an emergency, this can be used to record meeting addresses, to leave notes telling family where you went, drawing maps to find your way,. A pen is good, but a pencil can be resharpened easily with your knife and has no ink to dry up.  A permanent marker would be a good second addition. It could be used to mark buildings to show contents, mark items to show your path in case you need to retrace your steps, or leave messages that the rain and wind will not remove.

List of important documents:

As noted above most people keep lots of information on their phone.  In an emergency your phone may not have power or get damaged. This is a reason to carry a list of important phone numbers,  addresses, identification numbers, and personal information on paper. In addition you can include copies of ID, birth certificates, pictures to identify family, and medical records in case of chronic illness. When picking pictures include recent ones showing the entire family. This let’s you prove your relation to authorities. This can be important in the case of small children or an incapacitated family member. Keep all this information in a waterproof container on your person.

This is a very basic list. There are lots of other items you may choose to E. D. C. based on your needs. Some that come to mind are a length of paracord, a strip of duct tape, a multitool, a firearm, a compass, a small first aid kit, and a separate stash of cash. What you carry will be an entirely personal decision and may evolve over time.


Halloween Special: Don’t let planning scare you.

Today is about haunted houses, costumes, and pumpkins full of candy for many people. While we enjoy this holiday, let’s remember that planning can seem a scary proposition when taken as a whole. It can be be like a haunted house to begin with. From the outside it can seem terrifying. The closer  we look though, the more we see that it is just a bunch of animatronics and masks. Similarly in planning, once we look close we see that it is not such a scary task. Taking your planning in smaller pieces can make it more manageable. Instead of thinking of stockpiling months worth of food, start with buying a few extra items on each grocery trip. Or for bigger items,  put back a little money each payday until you can buy it. This way you can can manage each goal until you have fulfilled the level of planning you desire. So have fun out there tonight and remember the only thing zombies want tonight is chocolate.