Bugging out is something we talk about often, but just as often the true meaning behind bugging out is forgotten. Bugging out isn’t a mythical mass egress from your house, but instead it’s simply the act of leaving where you are for someplace safer. More likely than not, the result of bugging out will be you in the wild for a period of time either waiting things out or moving on to find a better place. Whatever the reason is, you’ll probably be in the woods for a little while.
The only thing that comes close to this is something that many preppers don’t do often, and that’s backpacking. You can use backpacking trips to not only get out and enjoy nature, but to practice your bug out skills, too. Best of all, if your neighbors see you like to backpack, it’s a great way to keep your prepping nice and quiet. Instead of being seen as the crazy neighbor that practices loading up the car early in the morning with bags, food, and gear, you’re the nature-loving hiker starting the weekend early. Interested? Here’s how to hone your bug out skills by doing some good old backpacking and even have some fun while doing it.
The idea of prepping is to be prepared for whatever the world can throw at you. This means not just buying the coolest tools out there, but learning and practicing skills that can save your life. Practicing not only how to pack a bug out bag, but how to live off of it and unpack it in the wild is extremely important.
For starters, you’ll learn pretty quickly what you do and don’t need in your pack. Sure, there’s a lot of great ideas for the best bug out bag but in actuality you only need about half the items usually listed. All of them are useful, but only to the right person. Your first backpacking trip will be very eye opening for sure.
Along with what to bring, you’ll learn quickly how to pack your bag, too. You’ll see what you need more often than other items, and what is stacked on top of those things you always need. By placing those items on top and lesser-needed ones on the bottom, you’ll save energy and time spent rummaging in your bag.
Overall, practice will get you comfortable with your bag. You’ll see where your bag binds you, where a strap is uncomfortable, and if you just have too much weight overall. Trust me, it’s far better to have an uncomfortable weekend trip than it is to have the same issues in an emergency.
Along with good old-fashioned practice you’ll learn how to use the least amount of supplies possible. From your second trip on you’ll start leaving things behind and only bringing what you need. While that awesome full mess kit seemed great in the surplus store, you’ll probably see that you only need a cup and a single plate. Instead of a large water filter the smaller, lighter one will work just fine.
You might think you can’t live without that little coffee maker, but after you have to carry it for two days or more, you might change your mind.
We’ve talked about how important it is to learn how to use a compass and map before, but needing to use one in the woods is different than doing it in your back yard. You can bring along a GPS unit and practice getting yourself “lost” and use the map and compass to find your way out, with the GPS as backup.
You can even practice your skills of navigating without a compass, too. All these are perfect ways to keep yourself occupied and practice vital skills at the same time.
The biggest way backpacking can prepare you for bugging out is to build your confidence. All the reading and prepping in the world can’t prepare you for the actual act of living in the woods on your own. Knowing that you’re responsible for your own survival is a big step and not one to be taken lightly.
By practicing the skills you’ve learned first hand with a safety net of sorts, you can build your confidence in yourself little by little until it’s no big deal to spend a week or more in the woods on your own. Self-confidence is easily one of the most important bug out skills you can have, and there’s no better way to build it than by practicing.
by Brian Meyer
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