Survival Test: Can You Bug Out with Your Bag?

June 13, 2014 | 23 comment(s)

Survival Test: Can You Bug out with Your Bug Out Bag?

A few weeks ago, I went on a hike in Southern Utah. It was a warm day, but not unbearably hot. I carried nothing but my cell phone. The hike was only about three miles, but by mile two I felt like I was going. to. die.

It didn’t help that half of the hike was through a sand wash (I had to empty my shoes at least four times because they were too full of sand for my feet to fit!), or that the steepest hill was toward the end of the hike. Either way, it got me thinking: What if an emergency had happened unexpectedly and I’d been forced to “hike” my way to safety in those same conditions, but carrying a 20, 30, or 40-pound bug-out bag?

I’d say I don’t want to think about it, but I have to think about it—partly because it’s my job, and partly because I really am invested in getting prepared. I hate to think that in spite of all my other preparations, skills, and gear, I’d be up a creek without a paddle simply because I’m not fit enough to hike to safety while carrying my emergency kit.

So, I’m committing to a series of survival tests this summer: once a month I’ll do the same hike (one that’s more local) with my survival pack on my back, and I’ll see how far I can go.

Between tests, I’ll be working to build endurance and strength so I won’t have to worry about “getting out of Dodge” if or when the time comes.

How about you? Have you ever done a test run with your emergency pack on? Care to join me?

If you’d like to join me for my Bug-Out Survival Tests throughout the summer, watch the blog and our other social media channels for announcements, and use the hashtag #eesurvivaltest to share your photos and experiences.


Until next time.


--Urban Girl

This post was posted in Uncategorized and was tagged with emergency kit, Survival, evacuation, bug out bag


  • Linda Sand  |  June 15, 2014

    We were just discussing this yesterday--if you had to outrun a tsunami would you be better off jettisoning your bugout bag or not?

  • beprepared  |  June 16, 2014

    Good question. Hopefully, you won't have to get rid of your bug out bag because it holds a lot of vital things to your survival after the Tsunami hits. This is why it's important to go out now and try hiking (and maybe even sprinting) with your pack to see how much it weighs and if you can move around freely with it on. If it's too heavy, you might want to consider re-packing or changing up your pack to give you the needs for survival, but to also be able to run quickly with it. What does everyone else think? Has anyone else tested hiking with your bug out bag?

  • beprepared  |  June 23, 2014

    That's great that you have your BOB all ready to go. Have you tried hiking with it if the truck breaks down or for some reason, you can't make it through traffic? Is it easy to carry for you?

  • atasteofcreole  |  June 23, 2014

    We keep our BOB in hubby's truck. I've got berkey sport filter bottles, sleeping bags, tent, blankets, etc. Some backpack pantry/MH/Alpine Aire and SOS bars. It's enough to get us to our land.

  • lita  |  June 24, 2014

    I have been slowly building a supply for in home and because I live in an area where climate change is frequent...I need to have 2BOB. That being said I live very close to a major river and o course purchased a filter that allows me to dip right into a source without a worry of being sick. I happened to notice on the site that these filters are only guaranteed to be safe for 5 years. I thought I would pass this along for those who have built packs and think having one in tow that you purchased 10 or 15 years ago will protect you. They need to be replaced every 5 years and everyone should keep that in mind and order accordingly.

  • Debbie  |  June 29, 2014

    I am a woman over 60. Although I keep going through my BOB it is heavy (30lbs). I feel like I just have the basics in it, but I still don't have food or water, so's not going to work. I know at some point I can shed or trade things out of my bag but I am genetically predisposed to being a pack rat. I have been thinking about a fold up wagon. My mom is 80 next year and I have a small bag on wheels for her, but she will depend on me. Hope we don't ever have to walk because I will only get to the end of my road. :( I am working on losing weight and being more fit as the answer, but I would like ideas on the ultimate essentials in a pack to keep it lite. Thanks!

  • beprepared  |  June 30, 2014

    I think it would be good for us to write a blog post about how to pack light, so it's easier to Bug Out. I have passed this idea on to my supervisors, and hopefully we can get that post up soon to give you some ideas for how to pack lighter. Also, it's great that you are working out now and trying to do things now to help you and your mom make it through anything that might happen. Keep up the good work! We are rooting for you.

  • beprepared  |  June 30, 2014

    Thanks for your comment. These are all really good ideas to consider. I really like the idea about having a fanny pack and chest rig in case you have to ditch your larger pack. That is a really smart idea just to make sure you have other necessities for survival just in case. I think another good thing to include in the fanny pack would be something to help you build a shelter or to stay warm out in the wild like a reflective blanket. Also, it is very important to have a backpack with padded straps and a waist strap to help you deal with some of the weight. Does anyone else have more suggestions for what to include in a fanny pack? or how to make your trek lighter if you have to evacuate by foot with your BOB?

  • beprepared  |  June 30, 2014

    Great advice. This is a great comment. What type of pack were you using before and what type of pack are you using now? How big of a difference has this change made? I'm noticing a theme in the comments--does everyone think the type of backpack you're using makes all the difference when it comes to bugging out?

  • Alan Lehmberg  |  June 30, 2014

    I have been hiking with my bob for the last year. I bought the pack that I have been using at a gun show and I didn't pay a lot for it. When I got up to hiking 5 miles it started to feel really heavy. I knew at this point I wouldn't want to bug out with it. I did my research and found a replacement. My new pack made all the difference. It held more stuff but it felt lighter on my back. Last week I did a 14 mile hike with a 4000 foot elevation gain. I could have never made it with my old pack. The lesson is, spend a little more on the pack you are going to use. It will make all the difference when you have to bug out.

  • RonGriffin  |  June 30, 2014

    Your test runs are a great idea and very important. If nothing else you need to know how far you can make it on a day to day basis. This may be crucial for planning.
    I have two important suggestions. First, experienced mountain hikers will tell you that a slow even pace is crucial. Do not move to quickly at first, or you will wear out rapidly. Move slow, easy and try to keep on level ground or slopes. When moving up hill, find a less steep path even if it is longer. Stay out of soft sand if possible, but also stay off hard pavement which will take its toll on your feet. A medium to hard dirt path is the best.
    Second suggestion; My BOB kit also includes a "Fanny Pack and a chest rig. The fanny pack and the chest rigs contain the most vital things including two one liter water bottles (The fanny pack is made for them with one on each side). Emergency food packets, flashlights, lighters, extra knife, radios, etc. In a real jam, if I had to drop my heavy pack, I would still have the fanny pack and the chest pack. The chest rig also has a shoulder strap that lives inside it. Normally the chest rig clips to my shoulder straps after I put on the main bag which helps to balance your load. The fanny pack fits nicely underneath the waist belt of the main bag. Speaking of the waist belt, a VERY important thing is to have a pack with large padded shoulder straps and a very thick padded waist belt. A pack with out a waist belt is a real bad idea. Internal frame packs are best.
    One last note, I have a 3-day pack and a 7-day pack. I put the appropriate one in the car depending on where I am heading. The fanny pack and chest rig work with either. If someone is going with me, I take both.

  • Don  |  June 30, 2014

    How many included weapons and ammo?

  • rongriffin  |  July 2, 2014

    I just want to make another point. Many people are not going to be able to hike a long distance. In some cases maybe not even a mile. it is still VITAL to keep a BOB in the car for survival. There are plenty of scenarios where you may be stranded in the car and just need to wait it out for help. The BOB will do that job.
    Don't disregard being prepared because you may not be able to hike.

  • Craig  |  July 23, 2014

    I have my BOB in a backpack strapped to a high quality hand truck. I can push or pull it through almost anywhere.

  • beprepared  |  July 24, 2014

    That's a good idea to reduce weight and carry issues. In fact, we have a rolling backpack we sell if people want to roll their bug out bag with them. How did you come up with the idea to use a hand truck? And where did you get one?

  • Scott  |  July 24, 2014

    Just read the post about not being in as good a condition as you wish you were for walking / hiking with your BOB pack. Something to consider, from a conditioning standpoint, is what effort or assistance you might want to help get yourself in better condition. If your goal is get yourself in better shape, you might want to consider going to either the Amazon web site or your local sporting goods store to purchase either adjustable ankle weights or adjustable weighted vests. They can start as low as 2 pounds & go up from there. Just some food for thought.

  • Lonna  |  July 31, 2014

    In my truck's toolbox, I have a deer cart which I can put together (without tools) to carry my father's WWII duffle bag which contains a tent, blanket, small hand saw and a few other smaller "want" items. I also have a backpack with cooking tools, fire starters, eating utensils, clean underwear, socks, boots, etc. I also adjust for weather/seasons. There is no food or water in any of the bags in my toolbox, but I have a bag behind the front seat with food & water that I take inside the house when not driving. I know I need to practice with the items I described and also to loose weight/get in shape. I wouldn't have far to walk if I was at work (6 1/2 miles by the shortest route, 8 miles by the longest) but, I still need to work on "getting it in gear". Thank you for your information/suggestions.

  • stratbastard  |  July 31, 2014

    One needs to do a dry run which combines your limits with the realities one will face. Remember, you will be carrying (hopefully) WATER, which is heavy. Sure, you'll have a filter too... but one has to start out assuming water will be hard to come by. If you are carrying a rifle as well, the weight starts adding up. Do a dry run with all your items PLUS water and weapon; many will likely re-assess some of the items within their bags afterward.

  • beprepared  |  August 1, 2014

    Thanks for your comment. That is a great idea to do a dry run with all your things. Have you tried this out? How did it go for you?

  • beprepared  |  August 1, 2014

    Looks like you've made a good start at prepping your preparedness gear. Glad this post could help you start to think about what else you can do to prepare.

  • night_fury_77  |  August 1, 2014

    Our family of 6 just returned from the Black Hills. We camped for 6 days. These are my findings... I am prepared, though NEVER depend on a vehicle, EVER! I am 36, my hubby is 32, children are 17, 15, 6, and 2. I carried mine well enough on bad terrain for 2 miles so did my 17 year old. My hubby and older boy didn't try but I am sure they will be fine because mine was heavier. My younger 2 did OK but maybe need to take out a couple things. I realized also that as a parent with a large family the little kids come first. You may not be able to keep everyone together and your responsibility is to the ones that can't fend for themselves. I have a wagon with all terrain tires for the younger ones, but if you need to haul food, packs, tent etc... I recommend a deer cart. At around $100 they are made to haul around 300 pounds over rough ground. I paid $30 on clearance. Also LESS is more . Do not buy multiples of items except a good knife, mag flint, and water filter. Spend money on good quality items in the first place and you shouldn't need extras. If you think about it with all the overbuying in this country you can find replacements all over. Who is really gonna be so far away from civilization that they would never be able to trade? And multi use items are the key.

  • beprepared  |  August 4, 2014

    Night Fury,
    Less really is more! Great insights.

  • Sharee  |  September 11, 2014

    Look for a sturdy wheel chair with large wheels for you and your Mom to use. If your Mom can walk then use it for your packs, you will have it if she gets tired.

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