Bug-Out Travel Plans

The “You Walked HOW FAR?!?” panel, streaming on DCTV’s Fan Track starting Saturday at 5:30PM, taught viewers how to prepare for travel under the worst possible scenarios, as would be expected from a panel brought to us by the Forced Survival programming of the Apocalypse Rising track. The moderator Hans Eckman spoke with experts at planning for emergencies and disasters: Dr. Rob Hampson, a neuroscientist, author, and Eagle Scout, and Doc Wohlrab, an Army Medic and a professional war gamer for the Air Force.

The three discussed all of the different considerations needed to determine how to most safely arrive at your bug-out safe-house in the event of zombie attack or other natural disasters. What does your mobile survival look like? What do you need in a bug-out bag? As Hans said of their conversation, it’s best to “Start with information, start with a plan, and figure out what’s right for you.”

When You Have To Bug-out

The panel began with the assumption that the starting point for any kind of journey would be a vehicle, or at least in close proximity to one. Cars and trucks are good places to store the supplies you may need in a disaster, as they may also be useful in other situations. They advised that the important part is to know what you have available when you need it, and that anything you may need to travel with is packed light enough to be carried over long distances.

A key consideration when prepping is to have an idea of the environment you’ll have to cross, the terrain, and how fast you have to arrive at your destination. For instance, Rob pointed out that 50 miles distance crossed at a speed of 2 miles per hour would require over a day of travel, and probably some extra camping gear that wouldn’t be necessary for a shorter distance. The weather also plays a part in what kind of gear you may need, from rain ponchos to sunscreen.

How Do You Get There

The panel suggested that the most likely form of reliable transportation anyone will have in an emergency is walking. Walking may seem easy but it comes with inherent hazards, no matter the terrain. A walking route requires good, comfortable shoes, and well-fitting, dry socks. Extra socks should be on hand to swap out in case of sweat or rain, to avoid blisters. It is best to store them in Ziploc bags or other waterproof packaging so they will stay dry until you need them.

While walking, it’s important to travel light. Expensive, fancy trauma kit preparedness bags may be too heavy to reliably carry over distances. The panelists suggested instead making your own day packs and first aid kits. Custom kits can be specified to what you’ll need, from knives to medicines, and you can be sure to keep them lightweight enough for you to carry.

Day Pack Necessities

The day pack doesn’t have to be heavy and fancy, the panelists advised. A simple backpack from your favorite department store will work fine, provided it has the means to distribute the weight of the pack comfortably for whoever is carrying it. This could mean wide, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt, or a padded cross-body bag, depending on the type of kit.

The list of basics to definitely include in a day pack started with water bottles, containers, or the Life Straws that help purify water while on the trail. Temperature stable foods like protein bars can be packed ahead of time and swapped out every so often to keep it fresh when it’s needed.

Another important item to include is a pocket knife, a multi-tool or a Swiss Army Knife, or something with a blade of at least three inches that can cut branches or twine if needed. It was even suggested that keeping a sheathed machete in a car trunk can come in useful when camping or in emergencies. A lightweight sharpening stone might be a good idea to include in a survival pack to make sure whatever blades brought along are sharp enough to help when needed.

Other items to include are those that can multitask and perform many jobs with just one item, such as a rain poncho, bandana, or even something as simple as a barrel pen and a pad of paper. For instance, an emergency blanket can work for warmth, just to stay dry, or for water collection, and they fold up small and light. Full size bandanas can be used for many things also, from sun protection to tourniquets, and they can be worn however you wish to make sure there’s room in the pack.

The panelists advised always keeping a solid pair of shoes with your pack so you don’t have to hike out in flip-flops. These should be tried and comfortable shoes, but not old shoes; Rob pointed out that most shoes are only good for about 200-300 miles of travel over their lifetime. Mechanics or contractors’ gloves help protect the palms and fingers when dealing with tree branches and rocks. And don’t forget technology chargers, such as the solar, rechargeable variety to keep your phone going longer.

Similarly, Ziplock bags are useful for waterproof storage of supplies, clothes, and tech. They allow you to protect food or pack trash out of a campsite. Ziplocks also provide sanitary storage for gloves and masks and other first-aid supplies like bandages or gauze. These bags are so versatile and useful that it’s worth spending the money on the quality, durable brands, the panelists advised.

First Aid Kits

A bug-out bag isn’t complete without a First Aid Kit. The panel advised taking a stash of various items and storing them in airtight, waterproof ziplock bags. Doc specified that every survival kit should have tourniquets, gauze, pressure bandages, band-aids, and moleskin for blisters and the inevitable cuts and scratches.

Rob suggested packing multifunctional, disposable masks; they can be used to defend against smoke and smog in hot climates, as well as help stay warm in colder environments. (It’s important to have enough to swap out the masks every two hours, Rob advised.) Latex or other disposable gloves come in useful for various situations, particularly when administering first-aid to others while traveling.

It is possible to take medications in bug-out bags, but it’s important to cycle them out to keep them current. They recommended pain medications like Tylenol or Advil, as well as allergy medications and medications to protect against upset stomach, in case new problems show up as you travel in potentially unknown environments. The panel also suggested making sure the medication stash is packed to stay easily at hand.

Personal Security Notes

“The hard part about the zombie apocalypse is not to get too excited,” joked Rob. Packing too many things will just weigh you down and slow your travel, and the panel agreed that extends to the necessity of weapons. Taking a sturdy walking stick will provide help on the hike and act as a deterrent to keep any threats from getting too close, they said. Among various other survival uses, paracord can also be used to fashion a handle or tether to the walking stick to prevent it from getting lost or taken away easily.

They advised to avoid conflict as much as possible, blend in rather than call attention to yourself or your group, and to know how to use anything packed. On the move is not the best time to learn how to shoot, so if you pack weapons such as guns or bows, be practiced and trained in not only carrying them with your pack, but in how to use them. They suggested brushing up on training in martial arts or other self defense practices.

The bottom line is that when it comes to preparing for the zombie apocalypse or the next snowmageddon, you have to know what you have at hand and how to get it where you’re going. This panel stressed planning ahead, training, and knowing how to carry the things you’ll need most. To watch their conversation, tune into DCTV for all of the ideas and details. As the motto goes, be prepared.

Author of the article

Yvonne is a dog-mom, cat-mom, writer, and occasional gamer (who knows too much about videogames for the amount of time she doesn't actually get to play them) from Northern California. Despite the distance, she's been going to Dragon Con for years, even if only virtually. Ask her about 90s TV, especially anything sci-fi, home DIY projects, and she can even geek out about everything SEO. You can find her at www.yvonneharbison.com or follow her at https://twitter.com/YHarbisonSEO for a random mix of SEO stuff, cute critters, and the occasional geek-outs about sci-fi, movies, animation, and comics.