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How To Choose A Bug Out Location

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The concept of bugging out is a popular one among survivalists, and with mostly good reason. If you are ever ordered to evacuate your home or area by the authorities, or if death is certain if you stay, then bugging out will really be your only viable option.

Though of course, bugging out is not always necessarily the best option. There’s a lot of risks with bugging out, with the most notable ones that you’re leaving the area and abandoning your property and stockpile while also making yourself extremely vulnerable on the open road to criminals.


Therefore, to minimize the amount of risk you’re taking, you’re going to need a suitable bug out location that can keep you at least mostly safe.

In other words, if you are forced to leave your home, you need to have a plan in place, and that plan needs to consist of where you are going to go and how you are going to get there.  Much thought needs to be put into your bug out location. Not just any random location is going to work.

There are specific factors that need to be taken into account and specific features and luxuries that your location is going to need to have as well, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When searching for a new bug out location, here are the top things to look for:

It Must Be Within A Reasonable Distance

Your bug out location can’t be on the other side of the country. Rather, it needs to be within reasonable driving distance.  The idea is that your bug out location will be out of the vicinity of immediate danger (so outside of your town or city) but still close enough that you can reach it by vehicle or even on foot if you’re forced to.

A hundred miles may not sound like much, but in the middle of a disaster, it can take a long time to drive that instance with heavy traffic, and on foot, it will especially take a long time.  Therefore, your bug out location needs to be somewhere that you can ideally drive to via vehicle within a few hours.

It Must Be Accessible

Not only must your bug out location be a reasonable driving distance from your home, it also needs to be accessible as well, and that means being accessible by vehicle.

If the dirt roads get so bad that you’re forced to embark on the rest of your journey on foot, that’s a problem. What if you have a lot of stuff stored in your vehicle, for instance? Are you really just going to abandon all of it, or are you willing to make multiple trips?

If you’re like most people you would most likely answer with no. That’s why your bug out location needs to be accessible by a vehicle just like it needs to be within a reasonable distance from your home, but also…

It Must Be Hidden

Yes, your bug out location needs to be both accessible and hidden at the same time. Is that too much to ask? Not at all. You just need to do a little more searching.

At the very least, your bug out location needs to be away from highways and freeways. Hopefully, it will be far enough that you won’t even hear any cars going by on the major roads either.

Your location will need to be hidden either by trees or by the natural terrain such as hills and mountains, and preferably both. In other words, people should not be able to see your bug out location from the road. If they do, you can expect to receive company or even for people to show up at the location before you do.

It Must Be Easily Defensible

One of the biggest priorities in any disaster scenario is security and defending yourself. No matter how well hidden your bug out location is, you must always be prepared to defend it if necessary, just as you must always be prepared to defend your home as well.

By way and large, the terrain will either be your biggest ally or your biggest enemy when it comes to defending your bug out location. The last thing you want is for your bug out location to be in the lower part of a valley or ravine where the attacking force would easily be given the high ground.

Defend Using Fortifications

You can further make your bug out location more defensible by setting up defensive fortifications as well, similar to how you could set up defenses around your own home in an SHTF scenario.

For example, you can construct a perimeter of barbed wire fences or thorny bushes. You can further build trenches or bunkers to give you positions of cover as well. It would certainly require a lot of work to create all of that, but it can be done.

One of the most effective defensive fortifications to set up would be to create one layer of barbed wire fence in a perimeter around your property area, followed by a layer of nail boards (flat pieces of plywood with nails hammered through them and then turned upside down), and then followed by another layer of barbed wire fencing.

It would certainly be a time-consuming process setting all of that up, but if you value making you bug out location as defensible as you possibly can, it would certainly be worth setting all of it up.

It Must Have An Abundance of Natural Resources

How long are you going to be staying at your bug out location? If you agree it’s possible you’ll be there for several weeks or months (if not longer, in the worst of circumstances), then having an abundance of natural resources will be absolutely crucial.

Examples of natural resources that you will need include, but are not limited to:

  • Natural Water
  • Fish
  • Agricultural Land (for farming and growing crops)
  • Timber/Wood
  • Sunlight (the entire area can’t be wooded)
  • Wild Game
  • Edible Plants

Each of those resources cannot be understated in terms of its importance.

Natural Water

As far as a natural water source is concerned, having a running stream of water such as a river or stream would be preferable over having a source such as a lake or a pond. A water well would also be an option, although they are expensive to have constructed.  This is because still water typically contains more contaminates.

Water is essential for drinking, cleaning, personal hygiene, and for growing crops. If an area you are considering for your BOL does not have a natural source of water, you should automatically not consider it.

Land

There also must be suitable land and soil for you to use for growing crops, so you can be self-sufficient over the long term if you need to be. An open clearing with good soil and plenty of sunlight would be ideal here.

While you definitely want to have open clearings at your BOL, you’ll also need to have plenty of wooded areas as well for timber. You’ll need to use the wood to help build shelters, perimeters, or for campfires and heating up your stoves. An open prairie would be an awful choice for a bug out location not only because it’s exposed and easy to spot, but also because it lacks timber as well.

Food

Finally, what is the situation of wild edibles and game on your BOL? Do you see wild game such as deer, turkey, or grouse often? Are there fish in the water? Have you come across any wild edibles and berries?

Not having access to wild edibles and game is not a deal breaker in a BOL, but there’s no denying that it would be nice to have backup options available for food.

In other words, you don’t want to be dependent on game, fish, and wild edible plants for food, but it’s still undeniably nice to have the option for when things get rough.

It Must Have Shelter

Having shelter is critical, and unless if you have an RV or a trailer or something similar, you can’t expect to just sleep and hang out in your car all the time.

The good news is that you have an array of different options for setting up a shelter on your bug out location, such as:

  • Tents
  • Yurts
  • Cabins
  • Shipping Containers
  • RV’s/Travel Trailers

Simply parking a travel trailer at your bug out location or having a tent ready to set up would suffice for shelter.

So really, any of those options will do, but what’s important is that you actually have a shelter already set up so that when you arrive you don’t have to waste any of your time setting it up.

Some people like to choose a piece of property that already has a house built on it for their BOL. Even if the house is a bit of a fixer-upper, it immediately provides you with shelter as well as storage areas. Speaking of storage areas…

It Must Have A Storage Area

Something else that you will need to set up at your BOL is a storage area for you to stockpile provisions, much like you would at home.

You can’t expect to bug out with everything you need in your car. Even if you have a Suburban or an RV for bugging out, you simply won’t be able to bring everything you need with you in your car. You just won’t.

That’s why you need to build a shed or a cabin or something for you to house your provisions. Just like you would at home, you’ll need to have a healthy stockpile of food, water, medicine/first aid equipment, cooking equipment, clothes, ammunition, tools, and sleeping items such as blankets and cots.

It may also be a good idea to divide your stockpile as well, at least into two halves. This way if anybody arrives at your location before you do and take your supplies, they may not necessarily find the second stash.

Conclusion

No bug out plan is truly complete without having a suitable location for you to actually evacuate to.

When scouting out different properties that you are considering for your bug out location, you would be very wise to keep the above information in mind.

In summary, your bug out location needs to be meet each of the following criteria:

  • It must be out of the vicinity of danger (so away from an urbanized area)
  • It must be within reasonable distances
  • It must be easily accessible by vehicle
  • It must be concealed and away from any main roads
  • It must be easily defensible
  • It must have an abundance of natural resources
  • It must have a shelter (you’ll need to build this yourself)
  • It must have a storage area (you’ll also need to build this yourself)

Even if the location you are looking at meets all of the above criteria except one, it’s a major red flag. Be picky and be patient.

The good news is that once you do have a suitable location that meets the above criteria selected, you’ll be comforted in knowing that you have a (hopefully) safe location to bug out to when disaster strikes.

 

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About Nicholas Oetken

Nick Oetken is a professional writer and outdoorsman. His mission is to help ensure that the average everyday person is more prepared for extraordinary circumstances that may come their way.