Bugging out -vs- Bugging in, SHTF waits for no one!

Both of these terms are decidedly “Prepper” terms, but have we ever really considered the true meanings of these? The differences and implications of each, and should we be equally concerned about both of them?  First thing is first, let’s talk a little bit about what each of these terms means to you. 

Bugging in: While the definition of this varies slightly from prepper to prepper the meaning is in essence to stay in place.  Hoping you would have supplied your home and come up with a means of defensiblity.  Essentially, you plan to stay put and defend your prepper stash.

Bugging out: Again the definition is sometimes subjective, but suffice to say it means to “Leave”.  Oh, there is a history here going back to the Korean war, but do we really care?  I think most of us just want to know what it will mean to us.


There are as many views on the viability of each mantra as there are prepper blogs to talk about it, it seems.  Now, I guess this one will be just another.  The best ones, in my opinion are the ones that tell us to consider a combination of the options.  While for some of us this may not be an option, I’d like to explore some of the things associated here.

Scenario #1 – Prepper group like 5147-thumb-350x175the one in Patriots by JWR , they live urban but have a BOL rurally.  This is a bugging out scenario, there is no desire to bug in.  The group realizes the futility of remaining in an urban area and prepares a BOL ahead of time.  Now time might be short, is this an option for you or your group?  Are you working towards this end?

  • If this is your scenario, there are a few key points to remember at this time.
    • First, SHTF waits for no one. If this location is not ready remember to have alternate plans in the interim.
    • Second, BOV, is it ready at all times and capable of carrying you to your destination? How will you get there and remember the route. (give a listen)
    • Next consideration is, the trigger, if this location is fairly close to your urban area (not sure this is a good thing) you can go there at the drop of a dime. But, if it is a distance travel, what would send you off into the rural countryside.

Scenario #2 – Bugging in as in Alas Babylon by Pat Frank.  Here thebuggingin family is in a small town with no large cities nearby.. (this would be my ideal town setting, but, better yet, a farm.) Do you already live this way?  If not refer to first key point in scenario #1 “SHTF waits for no one, have alternate plans in the interim.”

  • If this is your scenario, there are only a few key points.
    • Know your neighbors, get involved with the local community. Sometimes when we move to an area, especially rural ones we are seen as outsiders.  Become a local.
    • OPSEC, in this situation you are Bugging in…Keep your preps on the down low. Do not advertise to the world what you have or go on a show touting your prepper prowess.
    • Community, you are prepped and integrated into the community. SHTF and now you are the only one with lights and food….Imagine how quickly you will again be seen as an outsider.  Remember to prep your community as well…Think about the show Jericho , if you haven’t seen it….WATCH IT.  The whole community works together to survive.

Scenario #3 – The Community as in my first book Dimages-1ystopia: The Beginning of the End. (shameless plug inserted here)  With this the group begins as a group in a community and comes together to survive.  They already plan for things and have a group that they meet with and discuss options prior to SHTF.  Again, always refer to the first key point in scenario #1 “SHTF waits for no one, have alternate plans in the interim.”

  • If this is your scenario, you are well ahead of the curve and have at your disposal not only the rural location but help to defend and work it. Key points to remember.
    • There are always little idiosyncrasies that worm their way into groups, like water that freezes. Splintering even the hardest foundations.  Have a complete set of rules and outlines, leave nothing for the nay-sayer of the group to attack.
    • Continuously be working at creating a more cohesive group, you will find a split like in a foundation can undermine the whole structure.


Scenario #4 – Get the heck outta dodge, run for the hills. Backpack on venture out into the great wilderness never to be seen or heard from again.

  • If this is your scenario, let me ask…is your name Cody Lundin in Dual Survival? Because short of these skills, it is my belief that you are stepping into a giant pile of folly and might wanna refer back to scenarios 1-3. Keeping this one as the back up to the back up.
    • First, if you are out in the wilderness alone, the number of things that might cause you distress is infinite. Watching the History Channel’s show Alone, and seeing people who actively work at this scenario fail, and then looking at our own skills, if they are not complete. It just might make us refer once again to … (yep you got it) “SHTF waits for no one, have alternate plans in the interim.”
    • If you are not alone, it is possible in a last option stand point which we can see in the movie Defiance, where during WWII, a group is forced into the woods. The hardships are incredible and many do not make it.

This post is not all inclusive, nor is it exhaustive.  It is simply meant to make us think about our plans in a SHTF scenario. We should all be asking ourselves, “What did we prep today?” “How can I improve my plan or secure my location?”  By consistently evaluating our plans, creating back-ups and redundancies we are then able to have a more rounded and better crafted plan of options.

One of my favorite reads of all time in the post-apocalyptic genre is a book by, David Crawford (aka Halffast) titled Lights Out.  I have read this at least 10 times and always find something new.  If you want a recommendation that covers so much of every scenario here…. I highly recommend you read this book.

DJ Cooper

Listen to Surviving Dystopia on Blog Talk Radio

Leave a Reply