How To Test Your Bug Out Bag For SHTF
Being an avid prepper, it looks so easy to add tons of survival items in your bug out bag! But, have you ever physically practiced bugging out with that much weight? A very important piece of equipment for any survival situation is having your bug out bag with you. Your bug out bag and the survival items in it are the most important part of your evacuation plan. However, your escape plan would not entirely be complete if it is not tested properly. There is a lot of literature, websites and YouTube videos that will guide and get you prepared to your very best, however nothing compares to actually getting out and testing your bug out gear to ensure yours and its’ capabilities can cope with reality.
The fact is there is no substitute for reality! However, you can test your physical endurance and practice bugging out by doing anything. It could be a hiking trail with a 20-30-pound back pack or canoeing into the park river. Through this, you would be able to plan your trip considering any emergency situation and even ready to handle a difficult situation. So, you should first test your bug out bag on your own.
Testing Your Bug Out Bag Plan
Here are our suggestions that would turn your survival experience into a piece of cake.
Weigh Your Bug Out Gear
A heavy bug out bag is a challenge to carry. You cannot blindly put plenty of survival items in your survival pack, without knowing that is it possible to even carry it for few blocks or few miles. And, it’s quite possible that you’ll end up discarding some of the stuff or even the whole pack in a survival situation.
So, you need to plan things. It’ll make any difficult or easy situation that much simpler if you are familiar with using your bug out gear and moving around with it. List down necessary essentials and arrange a bug out bag list for your trip. Ensure whether the suitability and reliability of your equipment is appropriate for the wilderness or not. Also, share your trip plans with your team mates and family in order to avoid any mishap and any situation in which they need to find you. Here’s a great Urban Survival Bag For 2 to get you started.
Check the weight of your bug out bag as to whether it will be too heavy or bulky in weight to carry on your back. Avoid duplicating things in your backpack. You can alter the items according to your needs. You can replace the non-essentials with essentials such as if it is summer then you need to add more bottles of water or ways to purify water on the go.
Method Of Navigation
Being prepared for a disaster is a necessity. Every phone has GPS and some kind of built in map tool. Being a prepper, you have to be ready for a worst-case scenario, where your phone might run out of battery and your cell service will no longer be available. Or, in case the weather turns bad and your GPS goes on the fritz. Thus, you should consider making a back-up plan for this purpose.
There are some basic navigation tools, which you can put together to help you to find your way in the wilderness. So, apart from GPS, you need to have a portable navigation kit to find your way in the woods. This includes an accurate and durable baseplate compass, topographical map for the area you are traversing, SE navigation cards, and a fine point pen (to make notes). You should use a lanyard to keep your kit around your neck for quick access. You also need to store and protect your map by placing it in a zip-lock bag until you need it. For better protection, use a water-proof document holder.
Escape And Evasion Routes
Next thing that comes after navigation is to plan your escape and evasion routes. Have your routes down and plan your way out already. You should know the alternative bug out routes. If you are in city, and highways are clogged due to some nuclear strike or snowstorm, then you’ll have to walk out of the urban areas. You need to know the alternative routes if you want to stay off the highways. So, avoid the refugee routes as these are the main highways. Take your route to smaller roads as these will more than likely provide more options. Since people are creatures of habit, they are going to use these main roads that they are used to travelling on a daily basis. Therefore, you must know some of the different roads and routes that you can take and practice them.
Plan your trip to test your endurance and your bug out bag by increasing the difficulty level. It is better to be prepared for the worst weather condition. A sensible prepper will know what items to pack according to the weather of that particular bug out location. They say that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. In winter, the main goal is to stay warm, so locate an area where you’re surrounded by dry, seasoned wood or a natural outcropping of coal.
In case of rain, you still need your bug out bag gear dry. For this purpose, you should have appropriate water-repellent clothing and durable raingear to go in your pack that will keep you warm and dry. Wool is one of the natural materials you’ll want to have for this occasion and definitely on your bug out bag list. You can expect to remain warm even if you get wet due to its insulation property. More so, there are many waterproof technologies that not only keep the water away, but also allow your body to breathe and avoid the water buildup. These Special Ops Soft Shell Jackets from Rothco are perfect and come in a range of styles to suite, so be sure to have a look.
Survival Camp Security
Make sure that your location is well-hidden and off any of the main paths. You should hike into the woods a descent distance to somewhere that is secure and secluded. You should also make sure to limit the number of infiltration points into your camp. You can also try to create a natural security barrier around your survival camp, such as rock facing to the north and using some densely vegetative areas to remain invisible. Therefore, you want to try to create that natural barrier to reduce the likeliness to be easily approached upon.
You should have a clear exfil plan. Let’s say, if you are compromised by somebody with a weapon. You need to get your loved ones out of that area quickly and safely. Make sure that you have a well-defined and practiced plan to handle such panic situation.
If you are relatively close to populated areas, then you need to be mindful of how much noise you are making. Especially, if you plan on building a fire regularly, its smoke is going to be seen at some point by people. You need to learn which types of trees in your bug out location that don’t produce a lot of thick, heavy and black smoke. The lighter ones are going to help you with that whole discipline.
Water is one of your primary resources for obvious reasons. While bugging out, make sure that your camp is going to be near water but not too close to it. You want to be at reasonable distance because of having to transport that water back to your survival camp. So, don’t make it too far, otherwise it will become a pain for you, since it’s something that you are probably going to do everyday. For every ten miles of walking, you should have at least two quarts of water to keep yourself going. Keep yourself hydrated regardless of which season you are bugging out in. Alternatively for on the go hydration, you can’t go wrong with the Lifestraw. Small, compact, cheap and super easy to use. Just add water.
One of the important factors to sustain in a crisis is your physical fitness. You’ll more than likely be carrying your bug out bag every day and will therefore need the stamina to do so. The stamina to sustain the bug out bag and walking the long miles will vary from person to person. If your destination takes more than few miles with a heavy bug out bag, people with less stamina are probably going to get fatigued really quick. Therefore, ask yourself a few questions about your personal decisions before such a disruptive event occurs, such as how far do you reckon you would be able to travel and then how far do I need to travel to get to my secure place.
Don’t risk your life though over testing your bug out bag. Start with a low pace and short miles and then follow an average stride. Pre-decide your mile coverage and never assess distance by the time you took for a walk. By doing this, your legs will not feel much pain. And, you would be able to cover your distance without getting fatigued.
Testing Your Bug Out Bag Conclusion
It is thoroughly recommended to test your bug out bag in the wilderness for at least three days. This way, you would be able to determine which supplies you might need in case of a SHTF situation, or any other disaster. You’ll also get a chance to upgrade and further build up your endurance ability, so you can go miles ahead in the future. You’ll get to know which items you need to ditch from your bug out bag list and which ones you need to have more of. In any case it will surely be great workout and spiritually rejuvenating experience for you. You should try it at least once in a year.
Kel Warner is the owner and writer of EverydayCarryGear.com. A site designed to inform, direct and introduce like-minded readers about Survival Topics, Bugging Out Preparation and EDC Tools. Kel is a current serving military member of the Australian Defence Force, which has influenced her love for gadgets and tools that any GI-Joe or Jane would have in their kits or carry on their person.