Is It Time to Bug Out or Hunker Down?

Woman packing a bug out backpack in her living room

When a crisis strikes, you have one huge decision to make: should you bug in or bug out? Different emergency scenarios come with different risks, and it can be hard to know if the best course of action is packing up to bug out or hunkering down at home to wait things out. Use this guide for bugging out vs hunkering down to keep yourself informed and make a quick decision when the time comes.

What Is Bugging Out?

In some emergencies, you may find it’s best to leave your home and head somewhere more remote. This is called bugging out.

How to Prep for a Bug-Out Scenario

While you may already be gathering supplies for your emergency preparedness plan, a bug-out scenario has some special requirements. Most importantly, you need to know where you will go. You don’t have to disappear into the woods and survive off hunting, fishing, and gathering, though. Bugging out could mean escaping to a cabin or a secluded house in a rural area. 

You also need to have a bug-out bag ready to go. If you’re planning to venture into the wilderness, this bag should have all the gear and food you need to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you’re bugging out to another house or cabin, you still need a bug-out bag with enough food and supplies to last the trip. Some people even choose to build bug-out vehicles to have more space for their gear. 

When to Bug Out

Bugging out is often romanticized, but it takes a lot of planning and work. Plus, it’s not always the best option. It may be a good idea for certain natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, wildfires, etc.), war, civil unrest, and other emergencies where your home is threatened or it’s unsafe to stay. Some factors to consider before bugging out include:

  • Your Physical Health: Are you healthy and in good shape? Heading into the woods or traveling to a secondary location will require physical exertion, so you need to make sure your body can handle it.
  • Advance Notice: In the case of natural disasters or riots, you may catch wind of the event coming. If you have plenty of warning and can escape before disaster strikes, you may want to bug out. You don’t want to be stuck sitting in hours of traffic or find yourself trapped in the eye of the storm.
  • Level of Preparedness: When bugging out, you need to have the mentality that you will never return to your home. There’s no running back to grab a few items, and you may have to give up your life and comfort as you know it. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you may want to consider hunkering down.
  • Your Family: Will it be just you bugging out? Or do you have a spouse and small children to worry about, too? Is anyone disabled? Even if you can safely and easily get to your bug-out location, not everyone in your family might be able to.

What Is Bugging In?

Bugging in (or hunkering down) is when you decide staying inside and securing your home is the safest option for surviving an emergency. 

How to Prep for a Bug-In Scenario

Prepping to hunker down still takes work, but it’s often easier than prepping for bugging out. If you’re already engaging in emergency preparedness, then you likely have a great head start. Prepping to bug in is mainly about stocking up on the right supplies. You’ll need plenty of food, water, and first aid supplies at a minimum. You want to consider adding other items like generators, flashlights, and power banks to keep your home running as close to normal as possible. 

When to Bug In

Most of the time, bugging is going to be the safest and easiest option. For example, if a storm is already underway, it will be safer to hunker down and try to wait it out instead of traveling through it. You’ll also want to bug in during scenarios like viral outbreaks, chemical attacks, or rioting and looting. Basically, unless the threat to your home is severe and immediate, hunkering down is likely your best bet. 

Bug Out or Bug In, 4Patriots Can Help

Whether you decide to bug out or bug in, you need to be prepared ahead of time. 4Patriots has the survival food and gear you need. Our delicious, nutrient-rich survival food kits can help you stay fed from 72 hours to a year, and our camping and survival gear can help you stay safe while bugging out. Shop emergency food kits, water filtration systems, camp stoves, and more online today!