Bugging Out on Foot: Do You Have What It Takes?

In the event that it’s time to get out of dodge, you can start your bug out vehicle (BOV) and be on your merry way to your bug out location (BOL)…right?

Maybe, if things went according to plan.

But let’s be real—none of us can predict what’s gonna happen when shit actually hits the fan.

An EMP attack could stop your BOV from working, or maybe a major earthquake strikes and makes the roads part like the Red Sea. Anything can crop up.

So bugging out on foot should be something you get ready for. Here’s what you should know:

Factors That Affect Bugging Out on Foot

Can you actually take on such an insane challenge? The answer depends on these factors:

Your Current Situation

Bugging out is a last resort. It means that things have gone so south that there’s no other option but to hightail it out of there. Even if getting to safety forces you to rely on your feet alone.

Will you be willing to take that risk? Before you decide, assess the situation.

If there’s civil unrest going on or a wildfire is spreading fast, bugging out will be the best decision you make. But if we’re talking about something like a pandemic, then you’re safer at home with all your SHTF gear. 

Who You’re Traveling With

Traveling alone is way faster than traveling with a group. But you can’t exactly let your kids fend for themselves at home, so design your bug out plan with their capabilities in mind.

You might have to rethink journeying on foot if someone in your party is injured or can’t walk long distances.

The Distance to Your Bug Out Location

Unless you’re an Olympic sprinter, you can’t walk 1,500 miles to your BOL in 3 days. If you’re going on foot with no plans to ride any form of transport, then it’s more appropriate to retreat to your relative’s house in the next suburb.


Do you live in a place that’s sunny all year round? Or is your area known for its random rain showers? Should you expect snow?

Weather can have a major impact on your trip. Plan what to do in case of severe weather conditions so that your journey won’t be delayed any longer than it has to.

Your Physical Strength

An error some rookies make when it comes to prepping is focusing too much on their stockpile. They get obsessed with collecting as many canned goods and toilet paper as they can that they forget one important thing: staying fit

Now we’re not saying you need to be built like the Hulk, but being in good shape does help when bugging out.

Make it a habit—no, a priority—to exercise. If you don’t wanna waste money on a gym membership, you can always get a workout done by:

  • Using your treadmill
  • Going up and down your stairs while carrying your bug out bag
  • Rearranging your furniture 
  • Jogging or biking around your neighborhood, provided it’s a safe one

So what’s the verdict? Can you bug out on foot? If you think it’s doable, then read on for our advice:

How to Survive Bugging Out on Foot

There are many things you can wing. Sadly, bugging out isn’t one of them—especially if you’re walking. It sounds like a tall order, but here are some tips to help you in case:

Use the Right Footwear (and Don’t Skip the Socks)

hiking boots

Your footwear can make or break your trip, so invest in a good pair of boots or running shoes. Make sure you’ve broken them in, though, and wear socks.

Blisters are your worst enemy when you hike. It’s better to avoid them than to deal with all the hassle.

Oh, and add a pair of socks or two to your bug out bag. Do you want some nasty fungus growing on your toes? 

Wear Appropriate Clothing

If you’re backpacking in the summer, wear something that is light enough to prevent heat exhaustion but can still protect you from sunburn. Heading out during the colder months? Then wear a beanie, parka, and gloves or mittens to stop yourself from freezing to death.

The point is: dress accordingly.

Consider Your Backup Routes

You’ve likely decided on a route or two by now, but did you stop to think if it’s suitable for walking?

Welp, we figured you didn’t.

That means you have some homework to do, buddy.

Survey all the possible ways you can get to your bug out location. Which paths are safe? Which ones should you boycott? Think about the places that tend to get lots of traffic not just on regular occasions but also during a crisis.

These can be shopping centers and police stations and bridges, highways, and similar passageways. As much as possible, avoid them if you’re walking. 

Look for alternative places instead. We bet there are several little-known paths you can take. Weigh each of their pros and cons. You might either want to sacrifice speed for safety or take a risk and use the shortest route to reach your BOL faster.

It’s a good idea to leave a few survival caches along the longer backup routes so you can replenish your supplies if you run out. This also eliminates the need to carry more things in your BOB.

Let Your BOB Work With You, Not Against You

Walking long distances is a challenge in itself. Hiking with a bug out bag in tow? Now that’s twice the test.

But here’s a secret: how you pack your BOB will make all the difference.

First, consider when you might need a particular piece of prepper gear. Which ones do you need the quickest access to? These things can stay in the bag’s outer pockets. 

Next, group together survival supplies with similar purposes. Then, do these:

  • Place them in separate containers.
  • Distribute their weight evenly to prevent straining your back.
  • Keep the bulkier gear at the bottom of your BOB and near your spine.

If you stash your things without thinking twice, your bug out bag won’t only slow you down. It might also cause serious injury.

Take Breaks

We get it. The idea of taking breaks doesn’t sit well with you because you wanna make it to safety ASAP, but force yourself to take them. You don’t want to pass out in the middle of your journey.

Frequent breaks will actually benefit you more in the long run. They’ll give you energy not just while you’re traveling but also when you have to set up camp in your BOL

Make a stop when nature calls or if you need to call it a day. Since you’re walking, you’ll also need to take more breaks to rest your feet.

You can save time by using your rest breaks to drink water, munch on some homemade snacks, and let your feet relax. Just don’t get complacent so you won’t fall victim to the zombies.

Divide and Conquer

If you’re bugging out with a bunch of folks, then divvy up the bulkiest gear among yourselves (kids can bring their own BOBs if they’re old enough). Don’t leave it all for one poor soul to carry.

The same thing goes with guard duty. It’s best to take turns keeping watch for threats.

Remember, you’re a group. It’s not only fair to spread responsibilities out—it’s also gonna help everyone stay on track.

Do Dry Runs

Practice bugging out so that you’ll know whether to make any changes or additions to your plan. 

But you don’t have to travel with your BOB right off the bat. If you’re not used to hauling something that heavy, this will only make you hurt yourself.

Start with a lighter pack that has the most essential items, including a pair of lightweight trekking poles. Then gradually work your way up to carrying more gear until you’re comfortable with the full bug out bag. 

While you’re trekking, keep track of the following:

  • Routes: What’s the terrain like normally? What can you observe when it’s muddy or icy?
  • Gear: Will your survival supplies and gear be enough when you bug out for real?
  • Bag: Is it holding up fine? Are the straps comfortable, or do they dig into your pits too much?
  • Your momentum: How long does it take you to go from point A to point B? When do you notice yourself slowing down?
  • Your mental health: Traveling on foot is a grueling journey. It’s gonna demand a lot from you mentally as much as it will physically. 

Final Thoughts

Bugging out is tough enough with a tricked-out bug out vehicle. Can you imagine what it will be like walking to get out of dodge? 

It’s gonna take a lot of prepping, and we don’t just mean survival tools. You need the physical and mental capacity to do it, along with a well-established plan and several test runs.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to bug out on foot, it but it pays to start getting ready for it now in case there’s no other choice. 

Liked this article? Feel free to check out our other posts on prepping and survivalism

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