A Backpacker’s Perspective on Bugging Out, by Z.M.


by Sarah Latimer, Survival Blog:
I like to backpack and want to share my perspective on bugging out. I’ve done hundreds of miles out on the Appalachian Trail and have spent a good number of nights out on the trail in the woods as a result. Having the wrong gear while trekking out for any length of time makes life pretty miserable.

Bugging In or Bugging Out, With a Comprehensive List
With prepping there is a lot of debate on whether one should bug-in or bug-out post-disaster. The answer to that obviously depends upon not only the situation but how well prepared you are with tangible assets and outdoors skills as well.

I’ve seen a host of writers, who talk about bugging out, give their “comprehensive lists” with what you’ll need. But, to me, it is readily apparent that very few of these writers have ever spent a night out in the woods.

If somebody did attempt to take all of the unnecessary junk itemized on those lists out into the woods for any distance, they would quickly discover that life is pretty miserable because it’s impractical to lug around the amount of stuff that was recommended in many of those lists.

What To Take When Hiking Out
The proper gear, when carried the proper way, is not only doable but enjoyable as well. So I’d like to take a look at what you should take with you, and how to do so, if you are going to be bugging out.

If you’re going to drive to your bug out location, this advice isn’t going to apply. A car lets you carry a lot of weight for a long distance without any physical exertion on your part. If you’re planning on just hiking out into the woods and getting as far away from people as you can though, you’re going to want to figure out how you can apply the below advice to your bug-out bag.

Your bag needs to have a frame. Whether it’s an external or an internal frame, I don’t care. But without some sort of framing system to it, you’re not going to last. A framed bag protects your back and makes hiking infinitely more comfortable. It’s hard to go very far with a school backpack crammed full of gear that pokes into your spine at sharp angles every step and forces you to slump forward just to keep from falling backwards.

External frame bags allow you to stand up straighter and give you more ventilation at the cost of being more wobbly. Internal frame bags allow for greater mobility, but they hug your back close and force you to slump more. Choose one based on your preferences.

I like external frames. I feel that the ability to stand up straight and pain free is well worth the small amount of wobble I get when moving quickly.

You need something with a hip belt as well. Hip belts allow a good portion of the weight to go directly to your hips rather than your lower back. This enables you to hike farther and wake up less sore.

You have to have shelter if you are going to live out in the woods. Shelter is one of man’s primary needs. Without it, you die. Tents do a great job of protecting you from the elements, but they also take up a large amount of space in your pack. They can also be very heavy.

If you can, I highly recommend a hammock with a tarp large enough to keep the wind from whipping against your butt all night long. Hammocks are light, compact, and inexpensive. Tarps are the same thing and provide excellent protection.

However, if you’re in an area with little tree cover, are traveling with a wife and kids, or it’s incredibly cold outside, a hammock may not be the best option.

If this is the case, I recommend finding as compact and as light of a tent as possible. I’ve done a fair amount of camping with a one-person tent, and while this does feel like you’re sleeping within your coffin all night long, it makes hiking in the morning much more enjoyable when you’re not carrying unnecessary weight.

For tents with more than one person traveling where sleeping solo probably isn’t going to happen (such as with kids), get yourself as light of a tent as you can and be mentally prepared to not have as much space at night as you typically would. The point is to survive, not to stay at the Hilton.

I’ve found that easy to prepare dried foods are the most enjoyable to eat. They’re quick to cook, and they’re light, too. Pretty much anything instant works great. This includes things like oatmeal, pasta dishes, ramen, and the like.

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  1. Just plain old “walking” is greatly improved by the use of WALKING POLES. Even the cheap ones ($20/pair), have telescopic length adjustments, and select/de-select SPRING buffer (shock absorber). Because they take the weight off of your arms, you don’t grow as tired over the same number of miles, AND, the poles help to steady your tired body so you’re less likely to FALL down and injure or twist something!

    I’ll be a clever person could use a walking pole as a temporary fishing pole, and of course, they also can help to hold up a tarp.

    For hiking-bugging out, in a permanent, ONE way trek, then how about a bike trailer, with some mods, you can add some bamboo poles, etc, so you can pull it behind you like a horse cart (and you’re the horse).
    Bottom line? Back packing, is a hard core method, and you can’t carry much stuff, so your ultimate destination had better already be well stocked.

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