Getting your bug out bag together is just the first step. You've jammed it full of everything you think you need over the next 72 hours, and you're all set to make the hike to your bug out location. There's just one problem. One critical point many survivalists fail to remember. Will you actually be able to hike for three days? With all the gear you've packed?
I've been an avid outdoors fan since before I even knew about survival. Spending my nights at secluded locations up and down the coast, pretty much anywhere interesting I could go explore on a weekend, you can bet I've been there for a night or two. As I got older, I got more and more into hiking, and I've got to say it's one of my favorite hobbies. With time, I've learnt what works when it comes to bugging out. And I'd like to share a few tips from the trail for your bug out.
You need a decent shelter
Forget the "emergency blanket" you've thrown in. It may last one night, but that's about all you're going to get, and they don't hold up well in bad conditions, like a storm. One little rip, and the whole sheet will tear in two. Building a decent lean to can take hours, time you simply haven't got. At the bare minimum, buy a tarp, and have the cordage you need to string it up properly.
You need to stay clean
On a 72-hour hike, a normal person has a lot of bodily movements. You're going to need to eat three to five times a day to keep your energy levels up, which is 15 (or more) times you risk contaminating yourself with unclean hands. Not to mention your water bottle each time you drink. In addition to the dirt and grime, you'll be urinating and pooping too. Without proper sanitation, you will get sick.
You need to carry the weight
No matter how else you describe it, every bit of gear that's jammed into your bug out bag is hanging from your back. You need to carry it. The most advanced backpacks with hip support can only do so much. The only thing that matters is how much you're carrying. With time, and a constant strain on your shoulders, knees, and every other part of your body holding the weight, you will not make it.
You need to keep moving
Getting yourself and your group moving when you're hiking is a challenge in itself. It feels like you're constantly stopping and starting, and it takes so much effort to continue on the trail. One of the best ways to fix this is to keep everything you need in close reach. Your water bottle on your belt. Your snacks in an easy to reach pocket. Set yourself up so you can walk at least an hour or two before you need to "de-load" and take a rest.
You need space in your bag
One of the ways I keep my pack light is to forage as I go, perhaps using a rest stop to fish for 15 minutes, or gathering a handful of tinder when I see a dry patch. But I couldn't do this if my backpack was fit to burst. You need space in your bag to fit in the different bits of food and supplies nature has on offer, so don't pack it full.
You can't rely on fire alone
We all dream of having a roaring fire overnight. It's usually the first thing I setup in camp, but it's not always a smart idea. In a disaster, fire can be a beacon lighting up the sky to draw people to your camp. Plus, you've got to stoke it and keep it fed all night if you want to stay warm. Often, it's far more practical to use a bedroll and a sleeping bag. You'll sleep better, while staying warm.
Your food smells too damn good
I'm a big fan of eating, and there's nothing better than a hot meal to keep your energy levels up while you're hiking to your bug out location. But it smells. And that brings bears, racoons, squirrels and a whole host of critters to check out what smells so damn good. My advice is to not eat anywhere near your camp, and do all your cooking and prep at least 200 years away.
You've forgotten about the bugs
Until you've been swarmed by a constant stream of insects, it's impossible to actually get you to understand just how bad it can get in the wild. You need bug spray of course, but this isn't often enough. It's probably only really effective against mosquitoes, and there are hundreds of other little biters out there. Plus, it washes off as soon as you start sweating. Find ways to stop your skin being exposed. Tucking your pants into your socks and a scarf over your head may look funny, but it's better than being bitten to death.
You've not got enough food
When you start weighing everything that goes into your pack, your food supplies are going to take up the lion's share of it all. It can be an easy way to save a few kilos by taking less food, and thinking you'll "hunt" on the way to your bug out. Let me tell you now. That's a silly way to do it. You don't have time to spare, and you need to refuel with decent meals to stay on your feet. Especially when you're hiking a significant distance. Pack the food you need. No exceptions.
Bugging out is one aspect of survival too many "experts" get wrong. They put too much thought into the theory, and forget the most practical aspects of actually hiking through the wilderness for 3 days with a backpack full of gear. My advice is to be smart. Learn from the people who actually do this for fun (i.e. all the hikers) and make sure you actually make it to your final destination.