In this short article I want to clarify my idea of what bugging-out and bugging-in really means. 

I think there is a disconnect between reality and fiction in the preparedness world. The problem I see is that many people would have you believe that you need to go right off the deep end when you are preparing. I am sure that when you first get into prepping, you are inundated with images of camo clad survivalists with 80 lb. ruck sacks preparing to eek out a living in the woods or peppers with 10 years of supplies in their basement that run drills for evacuations from the zombie hordes. This is not reality. 

Reality is boring. Everyday we all experience little emergencies. Our tank in our car is low on gas, we forget our lunch at home and have to go buy it, or we give ourselves a paper cut. These are tiny little emergencies.

Once a week at least, I experience a subway shutdown. Someone is sick, there is a fire on the platform (apparently paper goes on the tracks and catches fire and everyone has to wait for a fire marshal to show up) or there is a jumper. It happens. Occasionally there is something wrong on the tracks and I have to walk from one stop to another. Not a big deal.

If it is a particularly cold day (middle of January), then it becomes a bigger deal. If the power goes out in my house in early spring or early fall, whatever. If the power goes out in the winter or on the hottest days in summer, bigger deal. 

But these are not dire, world is going to end stuff. This is life. And I have prepared for these little emergencies. In the winter I have the right clothing to get me home warm and toasty. If the power goes out at home, I have a generator full of gas and a full jerry can.

Bugging-Out and Bugging-In

I am sure we all know what we think is bugging-out and bugging-in, but I want you to think about what it represents. 

Bugging-Out is a Paradigm.

A paradigm is a model of thinking. I got this word after reading a copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people from my Little Free Library that I built on my front lawn. In the book, the authors intent is to get you to shift your paradigm, the way you think. I couldn’t help but see how survival and preparedness is a way of thinking. 

Little Free Library

When you look at everything in terms of a disaster or a survival event, your though patterns change. You see gaps in our infrastructure. You think of the stuff you constantly neglect in pursuit of good times. You see others around you in Condition White.

Bugging-Out is a paradigm because when you plan how you intend to travel from a secure location to another secure location, you look at all the variables that could go wrong. If you are driving your BOV (Bug-Out Vehicle), what if it breaks down on the side of the road? Can you walk the rest of the way? What happens if your primary residence is on fire? Can you evacuate it safely? Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you have stuff to keep you going for a bit if you have to leave home? 

But you don’t have to go right to crazyville about Bugging-Out. I pack my hiking bag like I am bugging-out. I make sure that I have all my survival priorities checked off. I make sure that every time I go for a canoe trip or out into the woods, I have a fully stocked first-aid kit (for multiple casualties if I am in a group), proper clothing dependant on the season and a way to collect and purify water and food. I know how to use the compass and map that I bring into the woods (otherwise you might as well carry around a stone for all the good it will do you) and I have two forms of proper footwear (because I have had a pair of sandals break when out caving). 

Same with my BOV (bug-out vehical), which is the vehical I drive every day. In the winter, I have booster cables, a heavy wool blanket, a flashlight, a couple of candles and storm proof matches, a hat and mitts, washer fluid, a compact tool kit, a folding shovel, a map of my province, cables for my phones and some food for my children. Plus I make sure that the gas gauge doesn’t get too low and I alway bring my EDC pack with me. These are all sane things to have in your vehicle. If I am planning to go off road, I have a saw and my axe and I have used them to get out of a tight spot. I keep ratchet straps in my vehicle because they always seem to come in handy. This is not going off the deep end. 

My house, which I look at in terms of a BOL (Bug-Out Location) is well stocked. We buy groceries every week, not every day. I have a generator because the power goes out and food spoils. We have a first-aid kit (which is often dipped into and restocked), a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. We have extra food in our pantry and a spare propane tank for the barbecue. When there is a sale on for club soda (which my wife likes to drink), I stock up. Stocking up on sale items saves money. This is what being prepared is really about.

Butterfly Strips from first-aid kit

Butterfly Strips from first-aid kit


It is important to understand that it is useful to think about extremes. As the documentary Objectified pointed out, the extremes inform the means. If you can plan for the worst, then anything in the middle is already taken care of. 

In future articles I will continue to use the terms Bugging-Out, BOV and BOL, but remember that it is because they are part of my rational paradigm of survival which is all about making sound thoughtful choices.

Hopefully this article has got you thinking about the rational end of Bugging-Out and Bugging-In. What are your thoughts on everyday survival? What are you planning for? Are you prepping for the apocalypse, or just for tomorrow’s hiccup?