FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Doesn't 'bug out' mean to escape the city because some disaster or terrorism or whatever has
disabled the electricity grid so cell phones and the Internet are down, police can't deal with widespread panic,
looting and chaos?
A. Bug out means evacuate (not bowels, but if TSHTF, it has to come from somewhere) - to leave
a dangerous situation in favor of a safer place. Timing is critical. If you delay your departure until all of that
is happening, you may have waited too long. Panic, looting and chaos don't erupt immediately, they manifest days
after a disaster, often because no relief is in sight and conditions are unbearable.
After hurricane Katrina, many of those who evacuated too late overwhelmed the roads, creating
gridlock, a linear parking lot, and eventually had to abandon their vehicles. Also, bug out means to evacuate
before, during or after a disaster, depending on the disaster and the existing conditions. See examples.
2. Where does everyone go when they bug out?
A. Generally, to a safer place, and that could mean a friend's or relative's place in another
city, a hotel, a campground, a refugee center, a second home or a specially-prepared survival retreat, created
specifically for the purpose. see
Where Can I Bug Out?
3. Wouldn't cities be the places first restored to order after a disaster?
A. That's 'technically' correct. Governments and other relief agencies usually focus their
resources and manpower in the largest population centers first. Small towns and villages may never receive
attention. However, depending on the type and severity of disaster and the area affected, cities could also be
without aid for days or weeks. That would create panic and an unstable situation, especially if the electric grid
remained down (grid down).
Consider also that it may actually be the government and/or other suspect powers that
are responsible for the disaster or crisis. I know, it's hard to imagine our compassionate and noble
political representatives conspiring to harm us, but one need not do extensive research to uncover numerous
examples of just that. Here is hardly the place to list all of them, but you might have heard of the Vietnam War,
9-11 and the Iraq War.
I know, those wars (and most others) the US fought on foreign lands, and most of those who were
killed were not US citizens. However, many thousands were, and most of them probably never knew that those wars
were planned and carried out by our politicians and the rich corporations that lobby them and profit from war. (
see the movie on DVD Why We Fight) Sadly, many more thousands of innocent lives were lost in those countries
Our government and the corporations that control it constitute the greatest threat to freedom
and peace in the world. Do you want the government vaccine? Emergency food? You would be wise to be suspicious of
any 'help' from our politicians, no matter how desperate you become. If these suspect powers are behind the crisis,
expect ALL population centers, even small ones, to be affected. They don't want anyone to be 'deprived' of their
'help'. After all, they are just rrying to protect us. See Survival Retreat for more on this.
4. Why is a grid-down situation so dangerous?
A. Our society and lifestyle have evolved together with electricity for so long that its
absence, even for a few hours, causes major problems. Hospitals and other critical activities and services have
backup systems to maintain their electricity supply, but even they are not designed to operate continuously for
more than a few days. Have you ever been in a store and unable to buy anything because their server was down?
Imagine all servers down at once.
Even our money has become electronic and dependent on the Internet. When nobody can pay with a
credit or debit card, business stops, gasoline doesn't flow, vehicles stop, food isn't bought, water isn't pumped,
heating and cooling systems fail, food spoils, alarm systems fail, robberies increase, looting begins... you can't
dial 911, so no help arrives... it's called lawlessness. If the grid stays down, don't hang around. Bug out
5. Why use a backpack for a BOB?
A. Many reasons:
1) your hands are free, 2) you can carry a lot easily, 3) you can run with it, 4) you can carry a person on your
pack if necessary, 5) a pack distributes the load on your body better than other bags, 6) ALICE packs are easy to
customize with pouches etc.
6. How do you know when it's time to return home, to end your bug-out?
A. Take a radio in your BOB and listen to the news. But it's more complex than that. After a
tornado, flood or hurricane, those returning may find that their home was partly or completely destroyed or may
even be completely gone. If this could happen to you, have a good Plan B, or include a
survival retreat in your Plan A.
7. What is the best bug out vehicle (BOV)?
A. The best BOV is the one you can escape in with your BOB. After a big earthquake in a city,
the streets may be so full of rubble that they are impassible for cars - that's what I experienced in Guatemala
City in 1976. It took weeks to clear them. But bicycles and small motorbikes were able to dodge the debris and get
around. You can carry the whole bike over total blockages and continue on, where cars are stuck.
This topic requires careful thought. Obviously, other disasters - hurricane, tornado, flood -
may not yet have occured at the time you are bugging out, so your choice of vehicles will not be limited by the
conditions after a disaster. But timing is important. Wait too long to leave, and you could get stuck in traffic
and never get out, like those who evacuated (too late) New Orleans before Katrina hit. They joined the other
thousands in the 'linear parking lot' on major roads leading out of town and eventually had to abandon their
If you can get out in a car, it might be a good idea to carry a bicycle on a rack. If you get stuck, you can put
your BOB on your bike and continue on. see also
8. How long will I have to remain bugged out?
A. Good question, and one you will have to contemplate carefully. Your
BOB contents, especially food and water, will reflect the time period you expect to be without
resupply. A lot will depend on the type of disaster, your bug out location and what it can provide (and what it
lacks), your skills (can you find food and water?). The extremes include going back to your home after only hours
or a few days and not having a home to go back to (see 6 above). If you have no home but have prepared a
survival retreat, that may become your new home (so make a good one).
9. Should I find a bug out partner?
A. Probably a good idea, IF you can find the right one (or more). If you're alone, you have to
do everything. However, select your partner(s) carefully, as you would for marriage or a business partner. This
isn't a camping trip or a blind date - this is committment, possibly long-term. Find someone whose skills
complement yours, someone whose company you enjoy, who can be trusted with your life. Better would be to bug out
with several families to a prepared
survival retreat. In that case, avoid unnecessary conflict by requiring a minimum of supplies, so
you don't begin as a group of haves and have-nots.
10. What should I do if I cannot return home after bugging out?
A. See 6 and 8 above, and
Where Can I Bug Out? If you are serious about your Plan A, you will have to include
the possibility that you may not be able to return home. As Dale Carnegie used to teach (in his book How to Stop
Worrying and Start Living), first imagine what is the worst that could happen, then accept the worst, get over the
shock and adjust with that as a possible outcome. Don't wait for the worst to happen; assume now that it is
possible and adjust with that. If the worst does happen, you will not be in shock and unable to function,
because you have already accepted the situation you are now in. See also
Plan B and
Bury Extra Gear
11. Bugging out could be strenuous, from my experience backpacking in the mountains as a youth.
Now that I'm much older, I wonder if I would be able to do that. Any suggestions?
Get In Shape,
12. My wife isn't as enthusiastic about prepping as I am. Some of my prepper friends are in a
similar situation: wives not on board. What, if anything, can I do to fix this?
A. Spend at least ten minutes each day kissing your wife. If that sound like an
eternity doing something which could be called 'intimate', then you have to ask yourself why? In 24 hours,
you don't have 10 minutes to kiss your wife? I know, I know, you don't see the connection, right? What does kissing
my wife have to do with her attitude towards my obsessive prepping?
Well, it has everything to do with her attitude towards you. Has that sunk in yet? If
you're thinking, "Oh, I get it. I kiss my wife for ten minutes and then I ask her how she likes my new folding
solar panel, right?", then you missed it. Listen up...Women don't think like men. After years of marriage, you know
that. They also feel differently about things. One thing women feel universally the same about is the amount of
affection they receive.
Some men are not very affectionate. If you balked at the thought of kissing your wife for ten
minutes, you are among them. Your wife knows this, but she will probably never ask you for more affection
(or gave up asking) - she knows you and lives with your level of 'underappreciation'. The ball is in your court.
First, just think about kissing your wife longer. If you are sure that she will not like being kissed
(or if you won't like it), obviously this is not going to work - that door may be closed (and well beyond
this web site to deal with: marriage counseling).
If your wife welcomes affection from you, you are fortunate, so approach this in a sincere way
and be genuine. Why do you kiss your wife anyway? To show her that you love her. So if you truly love your
wife and want to give her some affection, spend more time kissing her. Remember the song "It's in his kiss"? If
you want to know if he loves you so, it's in his kiss. You tell your wife all she needs to know each time you
kiss her (or don't). A 'peck' is not a kiss, it's almost a handshake, and she feels it. Remember 'making out' and
how much fun that was? Well, why was? Why is it past, not present? So what's the deal, you forget how
to make out with your wife? Or lost interest?
If you're not interested in showing your wife affection, why should she show enthusiasm for
your prepping? Or for anything you do? [Read those last two sentences again, slowly.] That, gentlemen, is
how many women feel and respond. Movie suggestion: Don Juan de Marco. Watch it, and then do it. Be
This is not a formula or a trick to get what you want. If your wife is not behind you on anything, there
is a reason, and that reason could be you.
13. I don't feel comfortable with the idea that I have to buy a gun and ammunition and learn to
use them. Do I really need a gun?
A. Of course not! You only need a gun if you want to survive. If you feel more
"comfortable with the idea" of being dead, hey, nobody is going to force you to get a gun. If and when you
ever decide that living is preferable to torture and dying at the hands of thugs who don't care if you live
or die, read the section under Defense. Apologies in advance for any 'discomfort' you might feel.
14. I don't need a gun. I have a really big hunting knife and I am an expert at hand-to-hand
combat with knives. I am also a good knife thrower. I think I can take care of any threat to my life with my knives
and skills. What do you think?
A. I think you overestimate your ability to deal with threats to your life and underestimate
the ability of someone with a gun to take you out at 100 yards and more, long before you even know the threat
exists. How good are you at throwing your knife 100 yards? Doesn't matter, you are already dead. Never bring a
knife to a gun fight - you will probably lose.
Sound travels at roughly 1100 feet per second, and 'slow' sub-sonic pistol and revolver bullets
travel a bit slower, to prevent the 'bang' caused by breaking the sound barrier (sound-suppressors/silencers muffle
the bang of the bullet's explosion). Fast rifle bullets, like the .223/5.56 (AR 15 and many military rifles)
travels at over 3000 feet per second, which means that they cross a football field (100 yards) in about 1/10 of a
second. Do you think a knife, even thrown as fast as you can manage, is an apprpriate response to even the slowest
Post-panic, many people will be armed with handguns and rifles, especially if there is
lawlessness (no police or other security). Your knife is a great tool, but in the panic and danger that might
erupt, you are going to need something more effective, something that 'reaches out and touches someone': bullets,
even slow ones, loaded in something that fires them at real threats to your life.
15. What kind of guns should I buy? The choices appear endless: pistol, revolver, rifle,
shotgun, subguns, and so many calibers. What do you recommend?
A. This topic is well beyond the scope of this web site. Consult experts who have nothing to
gain by giving you advice. Your situation is unique and so are you, so you are the best person to decide which
firearms you need. All I or anyone can do for you is to help you understand what the various types of firearms do
and in which situations they are useful. There are numerous books available on this, so I won't say more. I have
given some examples of firearms I use in the section on Defense, but again, they are
my choices for my situation and may not be the best for you. This is a critical topic, so spend
considerable time researching it and be ready to spend money on your gear. Like your stored food, you can add to
your supplies over time, gradually expanding your capabilities, without deflating your wallet.
What I do suggest applies to all firearms:
- Buy quality: accurate, durable, reliable. If I recommend a Glock pistol, nobody who knows
guns could recommend a more reliable gun, and lots of similar guns wish they enjoyed the Glock's reputation for
other qualities as well.* But those with small hands might find the double-stack-mag grips too big to hold firmly,
and a good grip on the gun is critical. So one size does not fit all. You have to try out (hold, draw, fire)
various guns before buying one.
- Buy models that many others are using, with good reviews. Spare parts and ammo will be easier
to find than for an odd caliber and model. Bartering, should that become common post-crisis, you will have ammo
that others will want.
- When you buy and like a gun, buy at least 1000 rounds of ammo for it. You will eventually
need it, and ammo is cheaper by the case.
- Buy a good holster for your pistol or revolver, and break it in, use it, wear it until you
feel odd without it.
- Practice your draw, fire and re-holstering regularly. Your main gun should be like a familiar
friend, not a stranger.
* Glock pistol - When I was researching handguns, I went to a gun shop shooting range to test guns. The owner
rented me a Glock 19 (9mm) to shoot, just about the most popular handgun, and said that it had fired maybe a
million rounds in the last few years, and it had never been cleaned! If you get a 'click' when you expect a 'bang',
or a 'bang' when you expect a 'click', you have a gun problem. Glocks have a solid reputation for not having such
problems, even when you forget to clean them.
16. I live in a city. How do I make the decision to bug out or stay put?
A. If you have the possibility to bug out, why consider staying in the city post-panic? There
are reasons, and a useful book that deals with this is How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, by
James Wesley Rawles. My personal choice is to prepare a survival retreat in a remote location (see
SurvivalRetreatPlans.com), and Rawles has the same approach but presents reasons and strategies for bugging in
(staying put). There are other preparations you can make for bugging out that do not involve building and stocking
a survival retreat, like burrying supplies outside your city or town where you can recover them later, post-panic
or even pre-panic. As soon as you sense that things are going rapidly downhill or are about to, due to some
announcement or event, that could be your cue that to wait longer might be dangerous, and it's time to GOOD (get
out of Dodge). See BuryCache and Plan B.
17. I have a very big and strong duffel bag from army surplus. It's a great BOB and holds all
my bugout gear. Do I really need to get a backpack, or could I use my duffel?
A. Do this simple practical experiment: Put all your gear in your duffel and close it. Now put
your duffel in your non-dominant hand and start running, and while you're running, draw your unloaded firearm
(dominant hand) and do a quick reload (empty mag). Oh, and don't stop moving or let go of your duffel while
reloading. See the problem with a BOB that requires one hand? You might manage the run with your duffel (unlikely
you'll go far, like a mile, if you have enough gear for real survival), but you will feel handicapped trying to
reload your pistol, revolver or rifle with only your dominant (shooting) hand.
A backpack leaves both hands free to do things requiring complex motor skills, like a speed
reload, using night-vision equipment or a GPS, operating a radio/walkie-talkie while holding your firearm, using
binoculars, opening and reading a map, etc. Ultimately, you have to decide what your priorities are. I prefer a
backpack-type BOB and both hands free. Some duffels have handles that can be used to carry the thing like a
backpack, but not very comfortably. Handles have no padding, and the shape does not distribute the weight properly.
You can carry the thing short distances, but for hands-free and comfortable long distance carry, I'll take the
18. I hear that HP (hollow point) ammo is best for defense, but it is so much more
expensive than plain ball ammo. What do you use?
A. HP ammo is more expensive than plain 'ball', but you can also make your own HPs by drilling
out that small hole in the tip. I use a drill press, put the round (centerfire) in the chuck and the bit (1/8" or
smaller) in a small vise, clamped to the table. Set the depth to about 1/8" for starts. Make sure the round turns
perfectly, no wobbles allowed. Lower the round to the drill bit and make adjustments to the vise to center the bit
on the tip of the round. Continue down to the depth stop and return. Examine the round carefully. Fire it at a milk
jug filled with water and recover the slug for examination. You can alter the expansion by making the hole larger
or smaller and also deeper and shallower. For 9mm, I found 1/8" and 1/8" to be a good starting point for both,
adding a bit of depth later, perhaps 3/16". I don't go over 1/8" for bit size. I've seen in a catalog small maual
devices for making HPs in a similar way, but without other equipment. You simply put in a round and put the other
piece on and twist to drill out the hole.
Be advised that, in the event you shoot someone, making your own hollow-points,
reloading your own ammo, making modifications to your firearms and similar activities could be viewed in court as
indications that you are a 'gun nut'. However, if all Hell breaks loose and there is no law and order, such custom
work and modifications may go unnoticed.
19. Why are there no photos on your web site?
A. Good question. This site is relatively new, and I have many other projects, like building a
survival retreat in the desert, which require my time. There are sections on this site which would benefit from
photos - BOB and contents, how to bury a cache, firearms and more - and eventually I will get to them. For now,
consider that the most valuable content on this site is information which requires no visual aid, and it's
20. Your header graphic is extreme, don't you think? I mean, are you serious? You really think
there's gonna be that much destruction and chaos one day? It looks like a scene from The Book of Eli or Mad Max. I
don't think we're gonna see anything like that.
A. I appreciate your honesty and optimism, however... That graphic could be closer to our
future reality than you think, thanks to our organized crime bosses in Washington D.C. In fact, it looks a lot
better than some of the places in the world where our military have been bombing the shit out of
innocent people. But you probably don't travel much. Look again at that header - this is a close approximation of
what it could be like when OUR country is bombed by some of the people we have pissed off. Think it can't happen?
Do some research. It's being planned right now. Start with the question: Who would want to bomb us? Make a list -
you'll need lots of paper. No countries big and powerful enough to take on the USA? - you really need to
travel more, or look at a world atlas. We are the world's biggest bully, and bullies always get a beatdown.
Remember, small countries have worked together to take down a big bully. I suggest you check into recent strategic
moves by one such 'small country' - China (find it there in your atlas?) Did you know that China recently bought
the only deepwater naval port on the coast of California? Connect the dots: China... navy... huge military
ships (destroyers, aircraft carriers)... California. If you think "Oh, that's impossible", then I suggest you put a
window in your cave, for starters, then get out your history books and burn them, because they can't help you.
Instead go online; you'll discover that Rockefeller financed Hitler's rise to power. Stick your head out your new
window, now deep breaths, that's it.
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