10 Reasons Why You Do Not Want to Bug Out

P. Henry
By P. Henry June 4, 2016 11:00

10 Reasons Why You Do Not Want to Bug Out

The plan seems simple doesn’t it? All you need for the best chance of survival for your family is a well-stocked bug out bag, a keen attention to your surroundings and careful monitoring of what is happening in the news. With these bases covered you will be a very informed prepper and will be able to get the jump on all of the clueless sheeple if something bad happens. You will load your family up with your bags and hike off into the sunset way ahead of the approaching death and destruction. You have a plan to bug out.

It sounds perfect, but in this article, I am going to try and convince you how that might not be the best and first option you should consider. There are many reasons and situations I can think of why you do not want to bug out from your home. You may be asking yourself, how can I even say those words on a prepper blog such as this without getting struck by lightning? It’s true that hunkering down is not the option that gets the most press, but in my opinion during most (but not all) scenarios, it is the better choice. That is unless you are a combat-trained Navy Seal. If you are like me, just an average guy with a family and a giant subterranean monster unleashed by nuclear experiments are not headed your way, you might want to stay put.

Related: Going Beyond the Bug-Out-Bag

You Live where Your Stuff is

I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of these reasons are going to seem incredibly simple and obvious, but I think sometimes that is the best way to approach a problem. As a prepper, you have probably started collecting some supplies to help you get through short and long term emergencies. Some of you have stored a TON of supplies because you have been doing this for a long time or else you are independently wealthy and you just blew up the Black Friday sales.

Even if you only have a week’s worth of food and water, that is nothing to sneeze at. Everything you have is stored probably in nicely organized bins for easy retrieval. You don’t have to carry it and the supplies aren’t subject to the elements. Leaving your home will make you potentially have to leave most, or all of your survival supplies at home. You could put them all in your best bug out vehicle, the diesel Ford F-250 with the trailer, right? Sure you could, but are you sure that truck will always be in your possession? It’s just better to stay at your home base because there are tons of advantages like…

Related: The Bug-Out Vehicle That Can Literally Take You Anywhere You Want

Even Your Kitchen Floor is More Comfortable than Sleeping in the Woods

Dangers Of Hiking

Some parts of Mother Nature are best appreciated when you can leave.

Yes, I know that some people sleep perfectly well in the woods and I can too, once I am exhausted from hiking all day. Honestly, you would have to agree that your old lumpy Serta Posturpedic mattress would be preferable to sleep in the woods or an abandoned building or even a hammock. Why is that important?

Getting plenty of good sleep has a huge impact on our health. It not only affects your moods but alertness and even immune system. In a disaster, you will be stressed in ways you haven’t even considered. You may be working like a dog and having a comfortable and relatively safe place to rest your head, even if that is the living room floor will be an advantage that the people who think they can just bug out into the woods won’t have.

Related: How to Get a Cheap Survival Shelter and Bug Out Location (Under $5000)

Built in Community Whether you Know it or Not

In times of crisis, you can almost guarantee that communities will band together in some ways. You probably don’t consider your small neighborhood or dead end street a community but let some disaster happen and you will see humans come together for support, safety and to help each other out. Being around even just a few neighbors who know you can give you advantages if you need assistance for things like a neighborhood security plan.

Even neighbors you don’t get along with will probably overcome grudges if the disaster is severe enough. Of course, there is the potential that your neighbors could turn on you for being the lone prepper but I think in most cases, things won’t go Mad Max for a little while. If it does you will have to adjust, but I believe that most people would benefit by banding with their neighbors for support. You could have an opportunity for leadership here or compassion by helping out others who haven’t prepared. It is much better to strive for this kind of relationship with people than head out the door and face the world with only what is on your back.

Related: Who Would You Choose as Your SHTF Companion?

Being Cold Sucks and It Can Kill You

I bet that most of you like to keep the thermostat somewhere in the upper 60’s to low 70’s during the winter. There might be some play in that range, but there are no thermostats outside. Whatever the temperature is outdoors is what you are going to be living with. Can you start a fire or wear warm layers to regulate your body temperature? Of course, but the last place I want to be on a cold winter night is huddled up in my sleeping bag under a tarp even if I did have a nice roasting fire beside me.

There are some situations where you wouldn’t be able to start a fire. Maybe if it was raining and you couldn’t find any dry wood or tinder, or there were people that didn’t look so friendly following you. Staying in your home, even without power can give you advantages of shelter that you won’t easily find outdoors. You can seal off rooms and even your body heat will generate a little warmth. You can black out your curtains with heavy gauge plastic sheeting and even the heat from a lantern or a couple of candles can put out an amazing amount of heat.

Related: Waterproof Socks – One Step Further In Terms of Outdoors Living

You May Put Yourself in a Worse Situation

The problem with most bug out plans are that you don’t have a destination. Where are you bugging out to? Do you think the National Forest is going to be reserved solely for you and your family? Do you think you will just set up a tent and start hunting for small game? In a large regional disaster, there could be millions of people leaving the cities. The concept is called the Golden Horde and they will be competing with you for natural resources. With even a few dozen hunters in the same area game will be depleted in days if not sooner. Then you will be stuck near a bunch of other hungry people who blame you for catching the last squirrel.

Related: The Best Places in America to Be in The Event of a Collapse

Being on the Road Makes You an Easier Target

One of the advantages of staying put at home is the home field or defenders advantage. When you go out, you do not know what you are walking or driving into. The best you can do is recon very deliberately which will only slow you down more. By staying put in your home, you can set up a neighborhood watch with your fellow neighbors and monitor who is coming in. This gives you the opportunity to set up defensive positions and plans that anyone walking in with thoughts of taking advantage of you, won’t be aware of.

If Nobody Knows You, You are a Stranger

Walking Into Town

If the people in the town do not know you, they will treat you as suspicious, maybe even hostile.

Have you ever been walking your dog and seen someone strange walking through your neighborhood? This was someone you didn’t know so obviously they fell under suspicion. Had they been one of your neighbor’s kids you would have recognized them, but this new person stuck out. That is what you will be faced with if you leave your home and go wandering through other towns and cities. In your home neighborhood, you will be dealing with known people that you can grow a deeper relationship with. There is a built-in level of trust because they have lived near you for years. If you start walking into a strange town with your bug out bags and AR-15 slung over your bulletproof vest, you may not like the attention you receive.

Related: The Top 5 .22 LR Survival Rifles

Gear is Heavy and a Lot of Gear is Heavier

Speaking of walking around in your bulletproof vest and gear, how many of you have walked for 3 days with your bug out bag? OK, now add a full complement of bullets and anything else you think you might need to defend yourself. It adds up quickly even when you try to reduce the weight of your bug out bag as much as possible. These weren’t meant to live for a long time out of. Your food will run out, possibly your ammo and that will help you with the weight, but in a disaster where you are walking out the door in full combat gear, do you think Walmart will be open when you run out of something?

Related: 11 Smart Tips to Make Your Bug-Out Bag Lighter and Smaller

In a Grid Down, you Won’t Get to Call AAA

BackpackingAlone

Leaving home may put you in a worst situation than staying put.

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones that have a place to go up in the mountains. If you don’t get out before everyone else starts leaving, you could be stuck on the road. What if your old bug out vehicle breaks down? All those supplies you stored in the back of that trailer are either going to feed a lot of other people on the highway or you will most likely die to defend them. If you aren’t already living at your retreat before the disaster happens, you will have to be incredibly fast to avoid getting stranded. Let’s say you are ready to go, do you know when you would actually leave? Do you know when the S has actually HTF and it’s time to leave or will you debate leaving with your wife and mother for two days because they think it will all blow over soon?

If You Get Hurt You Want to be Near a Secure Shelter Not Under a Tarp

I have a decent first aid supply kit. I don’t have IV’s and a ton of medicine but I can take care of garden variety injuries pretty well. Imagine you somehow break your leg after the grid is down. Would you rather drag yourself into the house, or be stuck in the woods for weeks unable to move? Most hospitals don’t stick their patients out in the back yard for a reason so you will convalesce better with a good roof over your head that is hopefully providing some climate protections. If nothing else, it will be a relatively clean and safe place to get better that beats lying under a log.

So what does staying home mean?

I will write a post about reasons why you may have to bug out later, but staying home doesn’t guarantee you will be safe and secure either. I think each situation has to be taken into consideration as to what is the better option for you and your family. Naturally if there is a fire heading your way staying at home is stupid. It is something to think about that and that may help you begin to form different plans for different scenarios. What are your plans?

This article was written by P. Henry and first appeared on The Prepper Journal

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P. Henry
By P. Henry June 4, 2016 11:00
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22 Comments

  1. Jacob @ Preppers With a Plan June 5, 04:06

    Great message here that I relate to a lot. When comparing bugging out to bugging in staying home wins out to me by far.

    Reply to this comment
    • Mic June 6, 23:34

      Generally this is a bad idea if you live in a city. Cities require active Fire departments and Water resources to keep the city from burning down.
      Now when you consider the Baltimore riots and the houses that caught fire because the building under construction nearby was set on fire. They only saved the rest of the neighborhood by the fire dept being available.
      A year ago a neighbors house caught fire, we had 10 fire trucks from 2 cities arrive to battle the blaze and keep neighboring houses from catching fire. It still burned part of the house next door to the fire.
      I was 3 houses away and the heat of the fire was intense enough in my yard, to drive me indoors.

      So bug in, until some idiot starts a fire and you lose everything. Then you will be bugging out, a refugee, without preps!
      No thanks.

      Reply to this comment
      • Lance June 15, 03:57

        The article isn’t written to disused people from preparing to bug out. It is written to disused people from bugging out as a first option.
        You still need to have your bug out preps ready to go if you decide to bug in.

        Reply to this comment
        • Padre August 30, 04:39

          Bugging out early, as a first option, and before the hordes decide to bug out is a good way to avoid many of these pitfalls…

          And if you are planning on bugging out OF COURSE you want to have someplace pre-prepared to bug out to.

          If you bug out early and have a noce stocked cabin to bug out to, one where you know the neighbors then all of your objections are overcome.

          I never understood the idea that bugging out meant leaving home to camp in the woods… sure this is possible as a last resort but as a planned response to a calamity this shouldn’t even be an option. So setting up this scenario a planned bugout to an unplanned location seems like a straw man argument.

          Reply to this comment
      • Oddjob April 9, 21:15

        You can still keep a bug-out bag ready, even while you are hunkering in.

        In fact, I think you would be wise to do it.

        Reply to this comment
    • Grampa October 4, 02:51

      I agree. I am paraplegic and in a wheel chair. I’m old, but I’ll get three or four of them before they get me. I doubt if any of them will be speaking English.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Snake Plisken June 5, 05:50

    Well written and very salient points for bugging in Mr. Henry. Most of your talking points I fully agree with and the article just clarified my thoughts.

    I’m not going anywhere due to the obvious reasons you listed but there are a couple of points that pertain to my situation.

    I have plenty of drinking water stored but have access to a creek less than 50 yards from my home, 4 raised bed gardens, free range chickens and access to large tracts of woods about a quarter mile away that I can forage for wild edible plants if not small game although I suspect the small game would be hunted out pretty quickly.

    I’ve put a lot of work into this place and it’s my little slice of heaven and between my neighbors and myself we’ll stick and defend.

    I’m also a type 2 diabetic and while in reasonably good shape, I don’t relish the idea of humping a 80 pound ruck sack in a foot of snow or in a mosquito infested woods. My body is pretty beat up from a life of hardwork.

    I do live in a semi rural area but I do expect the GH to eventually plunder their own neighborhoods first then turn the suburbs into a war zone. My thought is that the members of the Horde will bypass my humble home and pillage the upper middle class homes 4 miles from my home. However it goes, I’m not leaving what I’ve built with my own 2 hands over the last several years and I sure as hell can’t run fast so it’s a game of being strategically and tactically smarter.

    Best,

    Snake Plisken

    Reply to this comment
  3. Christopher June 5, 11:43

    I think it all depends on your personal situation and the reason for bugging out. I live in country in subdivision away from major city. situational awareness is the key. did the nuclear plant 20 miles from me meltdown? or is it a grid down situation? or civil unrest with mobs of rioters and looters? If i lived in city or apartment I would leave immeditatey at the first hint of power outage or issue. But since I live in rural area, with at least 3 months food/water/ ammo, solar power, I would prefer to sit out (grid down or civil unrest) for at least 3 months. I feel whatever happens, will be done by that time. Having ham radios, I can find out information on the situation probably first hand quicker than the average person. I think over all, being fluid & willing to adapt & overcome, and not lock yourself into one train of thought will be the key. Having your gear or supplies marked that you can shed weight is helpful whether on your person, in your pack or vehicle or trailer if you do decide to bug out. I agree, thinking about different plans now instead of waiting till incident happens will speed up your “decision making” at the time and you will be ahead of many others out there. Most people will still think the goverment will ride in and save them until its too late and the decision will be made for them. and btw.. i hate running!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Red Tower June 5, 13:19

    Good article. So many people plan to bug out without ever considering that they may not need to. In the words of Boromir of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings: “Are you sure you do not suffer needlessly?” I have stuff I’ll take if I must leave, but there is more I’d like to have, and if I can stay in my own home, I’ll have it, and be that much more secure–at least from the critters and hazards of the wilderness.
    I think, too, many of us might be too quick to jump at the least hint of things happening in the world. Our flight response has been set off and is only controlled by the logic of our thinking. It’s going to take finding that balance between “fight, flight or freeze” to help us determine if we need to leave, or if we will be safer in our own home.
    My FIL has a shirt that reads “Too old to fight, too old to run, that’s the reason I carry a gun.” As we age, we’d rather fight than flee as speed is not possible without mechanical aid (car). Others, older yet, state they’ll neither fight nor flee, but if others want their stuff that badly, they can take it.
    I ain’t there yet, but if I can stay in my home, I’d rather. If not, then I know where I’m going. This, too, can mean the difference between fight and flight. If you have a pre-determined location, where you know you’ll be safe once you’re there, then it’s easier to leave. It isn’t the same feeling as wandering into the wilderness as a refugee, taking your chances that what’s out there is surely better than what you’re facing otherwise.
    Common sense, logic and good instinct bolstered by education can help you know when to bug out and when to bug in. Educate yourself on events and signs that something is going wrong, and then you’ll know.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Taxdn2poverty June 5, 19:40

    Smoke and mirrors and nothing more. Your home is a lumber, shingle, and concrete coffin. If anyone chooses to stay indoors instead of practicing bugging out on a weekly basis to work the ‘bugs’ out of your bugging out plan then you will die in your home. Yep, the mosquitoes are out there, snakes, and spiders too. So what, you got to have a bug out plan and then work the plan to perfection. If you decide to defend your home to the death then you have guaranteed your own death in what used to be your home. thanks for the article

    Reply to this comment
    • Jason June 6, 20:13

      Your approach simply will not work for the great majority of people. Even if everyone was physically able to BUG OUT, where the heck would all of the US citizenry bug out to??? How many state or national forests are there in each state? And, just how much bug out space within each of those? When you consider the age distribution of our country it becomes readily apparent that your solution will not work. But, please do tell us how you see an aging or old huge segment of the population “bugging out” and surviving for even a short time. How about all those families with kids, especially small kids? Please do tell us how bugging out will work for them over the long term. Sure, they can pitch tents n the woods. Some could even put up a rough hewn wooden living quarters. Some might even have a camper sitting somewhere. But how would those people care for their kids, in the wilderness, over the long term? What about all the people who have aged parents? Should they just leave them to fend for themselves? It also seems to me that many young people simply would not have the $$$$$ to even begin to put adequate resources together to bug out. Unless you have a very rural home, far off the beaten path where you can reasonably assume that you could stash a long term supply of survival food etc., people will be required by life circumstances to stay put. I appreciate your belief in just heading out
      Before I had the life responsibilities I now have, and the physical reality I now have……….I too would have had your approach…..and I Would have been a survvor.
      But hey man, life happens and shit happens to us that we simply can not change.
      Good luck. I say that bevause there are times in life when good or back luck is what determines your reality. Some times back luck fwcks up the best intentions and the best healthy life lived.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Padre June 6, 00:05

    Bugging out to no where is dumb and only should be done in a worst case scenario….

    but bugging out to someplace… where you know your neighbors, have a roof and supplies, and have a better tactical sitution is really smart.

    Bugging out or in is a really personal decision and simplistic one size fits all advice should generally be taken with a grain of salt.

    Reply to this comment
  7. americuh June 6, 00:54

    We have firewood, a well, tools, supplies critters, etc., might as well defend it to the end, because bugging out would just be a slower death for our family. The very young, the very old, injured, and disabled, or just a really bad back makes trekking with a bug out bag out of the question.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jason June 6, 19:56

      You are absolutely correct.
      The great majority of people simply can not BUG OUT for a multitude of reasons. In my situation I will being staying put.
      Just a few uears ago I would never have dreamed that my physical ability would change so drastically. I spent my entire life being fit and extremely active. I took superb care of my health.
      And then, at the hands of two different chiropractors that I went to see for minor adjustments I sustained life changing and severe consequences…….one which required a hip resurfacing amd the otner which severly altered my once stable spine which had mild scoliosis.
      Now, here I am…….retired early, unable to tolerate being upright for long periods of time.
      Also, I have small dogs who would not be able to tolerate any manner of long trek; they have the flat brachycephalic faces. I will not abandon them.
      While I have 2 rural homes tney are both located withn a short walk from major highways. I also own 26 acres of woods……heavily infested with lyme disease ticks.
      But, I have great neighbors and have known them for 22 years now. I have my stuff here…..all my preps. I have enough to care for my dogs for several years. Both homes are located right near rivers. I have more than enough Berkey water systems to last me the rest of my life.
      And I will destroy anyone and everyone that thinks they will invite themselves into my world………I have no doubt that my neighborhood will put up a signifcant defense. I also think my community will defend itself from anyone who believes tney will access our community from the highway.

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader April 6, 03:14

        I like the way you think. Staying put is sometimes the best option. Why leave everything behind and run away? It certainly won’t be there if you come back. Bugging out was an option – a last resort option – once upon a time for us, then old Arthur Itis (arthritis) moved in. So now we’ll stand our ground. We have good neighbors plus a good location that is surrounded by some very rugged foothills that would stop most people before they even got started.

        Reply to this comment
  8. Hoss June 7, 17:45

    If you are not their yet, it too late. We have been living in are bugout location for 5 years now. It take a lot of work to live this way.

    Reply to this comment
    • BillH August 31, 03:05

      Ah. Then you will be staying where you are if the SHTF. So you will NOT be bugging out, you will be “bugging in”.

      Reply to this comment
      • Oddjob April 10, 03:13

        You can always hope, Snake Plisken, but I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. It is more likely that your home will be pillaged anyway. I fear we have to picture the GH rather as a swarm of locusts more than as a well-behaved family looking for a McDonald’s. Don’t forget, at the stage they are in any food is good food and the most hungry and fed-up (pardon the pun) amongst them will hardly wait for another 4 miles if they think they will find some at your home.

        Just my opinion.

        Reply to this comment
  9. Cyrus June 7, 18:27

    Every one has a reason to bug in , OR out. This is how I look at it. If I can stay bugged in , I will. To me bugging out will be very dangerous. FIRST.Your car will eventually be stuck in traffic, vehicles will overheat an run out of fuel. Every body will have a weapon, an some idiot will use a weapon to solve road rage, Now your walking , no car, destination may be days away, Many hundreds will be also walking, Some may want what you have , Food, water. tent. wife daughter. Third , Many ranchers an farmers will not want you or hundreds of others storming his farm or livestock. If you make it to the hills, forest. lake , Hundreds will already be there an more arriving, Water will be polluted , Game will be gone Lake fished dry, Then somebody loses control of their camp fire, Now hundreds are running to get away from the fire, If your still alive, You have to sleep sometime , An then this is when the camp robbers come. Sanitation will be a BIG problem, Then comes the illness an disease because of sanitation problems, Due to the lack of drinking water . some will kill to get their thirst quenched. SO This old man an wife will stay home with our survival equip an fight off the remaining people who want what we have. Same difference , but with comforts of home.

    Reply to this comment
  10. left coast chuck December 1, 05:37

    Everyone talks about carrying a pack on their back. If you are familiar with Indian (I’m not p.c.) lore, you will know that when the Indians moved their villages they used travois to haul all their gear. Prior to the Plains Indians obtaining horses they used dogs to haul some of the travois. You can haul a lot more than you can carry. One “expert” writer on preparation advised using a grocery cart. He also expected you to cover 50 miles a day on foot pushing a grocery cart. Good luck with that. If you have to leave a paved surface, you can still haul a travois. The Indians didn’t have paved roads to travel over. The women and dogs hauled, the men provided security. (I like that part. Now all I have to do is sell it to my wife.) If you are pushing a wheeled conveyance, you of necessity will need a smooth surface. Yeah, the homeless in our town drag grocery carts down into the river bottom, but they have worn paths through the underbrush, so it is fairly smooth going and it is only a couple of hundred yards from the paved road. It’s not fifty miles of rough country.

    Having said all of the above, my first plan of action is to assess the situation before leaving home sweet home. If it becomes absolutely necessary, then I probably will try to travel without lights at night, using red lenses when I positively have to have light. I plan to affix wheels to my travois in order to travel more easily over paved surfaces. If they prove too much of a hinderance over rough terrain, they will come off to be re-installed once again on smooth surfaces.

    Reply to this comment
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