Will you stay or will you go: bugging in vs bugging out
The prepper community makes frequent reference to “bugging in” and “bugging out” and while we all have a decent grip on what the distinction implies from a survival strategy perspective we rarely see indeapth discussion of the differences between the two and the relative benefits given different situations. While every prepper is clearly betting on seeing TEOTWAWKI, in chosing a survival strategy we are also all placing a bet on a certain post-apocalyptic situation. Understanding the assumptions inherent in each strategy, as well as the practical implications, is key to developing the most effective strategy for you.
Bugging In: While a small minority may actually plan on bugging in to a more populated area and participating in the resultant gang warfare, most who plan to bug in actually intend to stay put. Bugging in is typically characterized by realitively rural living, the stockpiling of useful goods, and a firmly DIY attitude. Most preppers on National Geographic’s popular Doomsday Preppers show plan on bugging in.
Serious preppers who plan to bug in tend to be stocked for a year or more with goods such as clothing, food, toilet paper, seeds, first aid supplies, weapons, and other “necessary” supplies. Such preppers also tend to live in wooded areas due to the previlance of wild game and renewable fuel as well as the relatively low human population. They’ll also have already identified or developed an alternative water source such as a well or stream that they expect to use once the pipes stop running.
The benefits of such a strategy are numerous. The preppers in question will likely have an easier time adjusting to the new world order than their counterparts who bug out as they will have access to a greater number of “modern” amenities for a longer time. They will not have to exercise as many survival skills in the short term. Another benefit of this strategy is that you have the time and ability to scope out the territory in advance. The better you know the area; what grows there and the major landmarks, the better off you’ll be.
Another enticing benefit is that the property used to store the prepared supplies can serve as a hub for family and friends that may not live on the property. There’s a greater chance that loved ones that are separated at the time of the event will be reunited post-apocalypse. Such a residence is also capabable of supporting both a greater number of people and people with a wider range of ability levels. Say your grandmother is in a wheelechair or your sister has an infant; this may be the preferred strategy for you.
Some of the shortfalls of such a strategy are the present cost and the long term vulnerability. Not only does such a strategy require spending large sums on property and consumer goods it’s also far more obvious and therefore incurs higher social costs. You’ll have to make compromises in the types of careers, social activities, and relationships you can pursue.
Post-apocalypse you would be exposed to numerous vulnerabilities simply by staying in one place. Roaming bands of survivers (and zombies) would consider your settlement a prime target. You’d also be less able to respond quickly to competition for scarce resources or disaster striking your area.
Overall, bugging in is the preferred strategy for those with diverse family structures and those who already live in relatively rural areas or have stable careers. We do not recommend this for the young and ambitious or for urbanities or if you expect the apocalyptic event to result in large numbers of survivors. Or zombies.
Bugging Out: Bugging out is typically characterized by an individual amassing wilderness survival skills. These are frequently your “off-grid” livers, survivalists, and unassuming handy-dandy city dwellers.
Those who plan to bug out of their relatively socially normal lives if an apocalyptic event occurs usually spend their free time plotting escape routes, preparing small amounts of easy to carry supplies that will be useful in the short run, developing their wilderness skills, and ensuring their physical fitness.
The benefits of this type of strategy are very different but no less numerous than those for bugging in. Bugging out is geared toward long-term human survival. While primal living may come as a shock to many, no matter how prepared, those who survive it will have developed long term survival skills to pass on to others. Over time (as in, within months) it’s probably that like-minded survivors would form tribal systems or confederations around shared beliefs similar to the Native Americans thus creating a resurgence of human societies.
Another benefit of this strategy is that it gets you out of harms way. The ability to escape populated areas quickly and easily post-apocalypse will be invaluable given the chaos likely to occur in the immediate aftermath. The enhanced mobility of such preppers means that they will also be able to travel to needed resources and evade danger as it crops up. A final benefit is the ease with which these preppers can assimilate into normal social structures. No matter where you live or what you have chosen to do for a living giving present circumstances if you have the desire and physical fitness you can prepare to bug out.
Some shortfalls of bugging out include the fact that it is not a scalable strategy. Each individual in your party must be able to fend for themselves on some level. You must also be physically fit or capable of becoming physically fit. You also have to be sound of mind and good under pressure because there will be no buffer between you an death. This just isn’t a great solution for families with small children, the elderly, or those with disabilities.
Overall, bugging out is a worthwhile strategy for those with small families, who live far away from their families, or for those who currently live in highly populated areas. Don’t think that this is the easier strategy though as you will need to put significant effort into developing the skills needed to survive in the wild.
Regardless of how you chose to prepare for post-world survival fully understanding your strategy and the downfalls is important. Overall survival skills, an open mind, and willingness to cooperate will be key for survivors. Tell us, how are you preparing for the apocalypse? Which strategy do you prefer?