Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Walking out

There’s a big subculture in the prepper community that just loves to talk about bug out vehicles. Preppers debate about the pros and cons of different vehicles. We talk about trucks, vans, cars, motorcycles, ATVs, bicycles, boats, planes -you name it.

We talk about different fuels, gas, diesel, propane, natural gas, wood gas, electric, bio-diesel -just about any fuel imaginable. There’s fuel storage, mutifuel vehicles, and even home brewed fuel.

Many of us study maps and charts plotting possible bug out routes. We plan for alternative routes -secondary roads, logging roads, rail beds, and even power and gas line right of ways. These are all useful things and often fun and interesting to figure out.

What we don’t like to think about is how we might really have to bug out. We might have to walk. That’s no fun at all. All that cool gear in our bug out vehicle gets reduced to what we can carry on our back. Don’t plan on being able to carry a 80 pound pack. Maybe if you are young, fit, and an avid hiker it could be done. Then again, most experienced hikers carry much lighter packs than that.

Figure on carrying a 20 pound pack. See what essentials you can get into that. Maybe check out the hiking forums instead of the prepper forums for a change. You do have decent packs for all members of your party, right?

How about good hiking boots and socks? Are the boots broken in? Do you want to start a bug out situation with painful and possibly dangerous foot blisters?

Even if you can start out in some kind of bug out vehicle, have your waking gear with you. You never know. People used to laugh at all the stuff I’d take with me when snowmobiling. There was a complete change of clothes as a snowmobile suite isn’t that great for walking in. I had a hat instead of just my helmet. I’d bring food, water and a flashlight. There were a pair of snowshoes strapped to my machine. Even a half hour’s snowmobile trip into the woods can take all day to walk back.

On wilderness canoe trips my day to day footwear was a good pair of sandals. They are great for hopping in and out of canoes, but not so great for a long walk though the woods. At the very minimum I’d carry a rugged pair of lightweight hiking sneakers. You never know.

When you do plan your bug out route, see what a walking escape looks like. Is there enough drinking water along the way? Water is heavy so there are limits on how much can reasonably be carried. A good hiker’s water filter might save the day. How safe will the route be? Will a million other people be walking the same road?

Walking isn’t all disadvantages. It’s possible to go cross country where vehicles cannot go. Maybe it might be prudent to bushwhack through the woods to avoid other people. Looking at bug out routes with walking in mind should suggest some interesting alternatives.

One last hint about walking. Bring or make a good walking stick. It’s like getting a third leg. You can go further without lest fatigue. You are more stable and less likely to fall and get hurt. The walking stick is good basic protection against dogs and other animals -some on two legs.

Being prepared for a long walk makes all the difference in the world.



  1. Tell me Sixbears.
    What exactly are the preppers in your neck of the woods so to speak, prepping for?
    What do they think is going to happen?
    I'm personally thinking civil disobedience on a large scale but you and your friends may well have different ideas.
    Do tell...

    1. If I'd have to sum up the local prepper mentality it would be: this can't go on. So let's say infrastructure collapse -the grid, food supply, the economy, security -it's all tied together.

      Civil disobedience isn't quite the same in a low population area where everyone is very well armed.

  2. My wife and I would never make it walking, so we're planning on staying put and asking the Lord for protection (though I have a little protection of another kind as well). I'm thinking either economic collapse or power outage are the most likely, if TFT is interested in my guess.

    1. The trick is to already be living where you'd you'd want to escape to.

      I don't have the hubris to think man can plan for everything -beyond that there is only faith.

    2. Thanks Gorges.
      That's all a bit different to here in New Zealand. Like you people, I have the feeling that it can't go on like it is and I think there'll be a lot more 'occupy' protests as the disenfranchised get more and more frustrated.
      The people on benefits will eventually rise up and say enough. Here as well as in the US, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer...

    3. You're right Sixbears. I like that. The trick is to already be living where you'd want to escape to...

  3. As always, great points made. If the Calvary isn't going to ride to the rescue, walking out will be your only means of moving. Unless you chose to carry a bicycle(s). Either way, your legs will be needed to move.

    1. Thanks. We should at least think though the possibility and prep a bit.

  4. A couple of years ago, just for slaps and tickles and just to see if it could indeed be done, I asked our group to strap on Alice Packs that weighed fifty (50) pounds or less and hike two miles and camp and hike back.
    Each man came back and said, 'never again.' Without proper physical training most grown men, if reduced to hiking during any SHTF emergency, will find themselves beside the road reduced to tears and sad to say, bait for the bad guys.

    1. You guys actually did the test so know what it's all about -unlike arm chair preppers who think that they'll do 20 miles a day with a 75 pound pack.

    2. Last year I walked to my county capitol... and back. Oh that was fun.

      My car was out of commission and my ride cancelled at the last minute. So I had to walk. In dress shoes. The agony was unbelievable. Then I had to walk BACK. I bought some new cushy socks from the dollar store on the way back, that helped some. As did the beef jerky and granola bars and water I'd bought on the way back.

      It took me well into dark to get home, and only sheer force of will kept me putting one foot in front of the other.

      I kept thinking of my wife, and what she'd think happened to me if I didn't get home before midnight.

      I was practically crippled for a week afterwards.

      I did it again later that same year, also because I had to. But this time I was prepared.

      It was rainy so I wore boots, which added extra weight. Kept my feet try though. 11 miles there, 11 miles back. To say it wasn't fun would be an understatement. But it wasn't near as bad as the time before.

      I had extra socks this time, and a walking stick and a light day pack that I had some high energy snacks in, granola and the like.

      On the way back, I found some fresh apples from an in-season apple tree. They were like mana from heaven.

      I was only out of commission for about 3 days this time. Sore, but not immobilized like the time before.

      These armchair preppers and weekend warriors who think they're just going to hump a zillion miles with a heavy pack... HA!

      And I'm used to walking in the woods fairly long distances. And it still sucks, especially if you don't do it frequently.

      You can walk 20 miles in a day, unencumbered, if your life depends on it. But expect to be out of commission for a while afterwards. You certainly aren't going to do it every day.

  5. Good post. The backup plan always has to include walking. Most of us who walk to keep fit don't really know what it is like to carry a heavy pack. In fact, most fitness walkers don't carry any pack. The professional carriers on African safaris were only expected to carry about 55 lbs. So even 20 pounds will be a strain for those who aren't used to carrying a pack.

    1. Thanks.

      Of course, we always want more stuff, but 20 pounds seems reasonable. I used to do 3 day hikes with a 15 pound pack and that was before they invented all that specialized lightweight pack stuff.

  6. Depending what the emergency is, I would stay put if I could. It is better to be familiar with your surroundings.

    1. It's my first choice. However, I might get stuck away from home and have to hike back.