You've done the research, saved all your pennies and bought the bugout bag that you've wanted. Now, We all have our own ideas about what pack, gear, and location works for us during a bugout emergency.
If your bug out location isn’t stocked with supplies the chances are you’ll need a vehicle to get yourself and family along with all the essentials there. Ideally, you’ve already stocked it with food, tools, weapons, ammunition, fuel and other supplies, allowing you to now make the trip there with a much lighter loaded backpack. Your bugout bag should hold everything you need to get you to your safe place, and a lighter pack opens up the options to make the trip on foot.
Bugging out on foot?
There are a lot of advantages to bugging out on foot. Perhaps the biggest is that it’s reliable. Foot travel is unaffected by an EMP that's powerful enough to disable all but the most specialized vehicles. Road closures, checkpoints, floods and so on can stop a vehicle in its tracks, but if you’re traveling on foot you can just keep going, making route adjustments as necessary.
Hold on, there’s a downside too, traveling on foot is slow. Trips that would have taken minutes or hours by vehicle to your bug out location will probably now take a day or more. Making matters worse, many of us have underestimated how many days the trip will take on foot. Not only is it inconvenient, but it could be dangerous. A simple miscalculation of how long it’s going to take could cause you to pack too little food and not enough water for the bugout.
This miscalculation could kill you.
Good bug-out bags aren't lightweight. In a bugout scenario you'll need overnight kit like that consists of a sleeping bag (again this is season dependent) and some kind of tarp or tent shelter, rain gear or foul weather clothing, food, water, first aid kit, weapons and ammunition, and any other pieces of kit that you didn’t already store in your bug out location. Ideally, you want to keep your packed load below a third of your body weight. Ideal is not always what happens with our bug out practice runs as some locations are more favorable than others, which means we have to pack more gear. More gear equals more weight and that typically means a slower bugout on foot.
Four miles an hour?
Unloaded most people think that achieving a distance of thirty miles per day on foot is within their physical ability. Some even estimate forty miles. Unless they are Olympic level in their personal fitness they're both wrong.
The Naismith Rule
The best way to estimate your maximum coverable distance in a day is to use the Naismith Rule. A 19th-century Scottish mountaineer named William Wilson Naismith developed a time and distance calculation that is still useful today.
Two things are assumed in this rule, one being that you are reasonably fit and that terrain and weather are favorable. If applicable you'll end up with these two estimates on time and distance:
- Every three miles of horizontal distance you cover will take you one hour.
- Every 2,000 feet you ascend will take you one hour.
- These are cumulative times, so if you cover six miles horizontally and go over two 1,000 foothills on the way, it will take you three hours.
This rule is quite useful when choosing your bugout routes. You'll be able to roughly calculate whether it's faster to go over high ground or around it. Being less fit will however make your travel slower. Wind, rain, snow, and mud will also slow you down as will walking on loose gravel and sand. The time it takes to stop and change out sweat-soaked socks and eat a couple of snacks or meals must also be factored into how long it will take you to reach your bugout location.
Using Naismith's Rule on a route that isn't too hilly you could cover in a day around twenty-four miles in ideal conditions. I've found that realistically I can cut more than a third off of that estimate down to about fourteen, perhaps fifteen miles under my heavy USMC FILBE ruck. In adverse weather conditions while walking over rocky terrain that estimate can easily be cut in half.
While we like to think we're superhuman, we're not, we need breaks during our route. Taking a day to recover physically during the trip can prevent injury to your feet, legs, back and shoulders.
If your bugout location is seventy-five, one hundred miles or more, don't let depression set in and discourage you. You know that trip will take you a week or more and now you can prepare for it.