In my youth, I was a Boy Scout. The model of the Boy Scouts of America is “be prepared.” I think that’s good advice not just for the Boy Scouts, but for life. You never know what could happen, and sometimes it’s better to be prepared. It’s better to never have to use your skills than be thrust into a situation where you need those skills and don’t have them.
I would certainly not consider myself paranoid. I am what I would call “cautious.” After all, the world is a crazy place, and the current state of politics, heightened emotions, and threat of terrorism really can’t be ignored. A recent trip to the North Woods—combined with a plethora of reality survival-type shows spread across a dozen television channels—had me curious as to what it would really take to survive a bug-out situation.
Viewing several of these programs, it is apparent that the average American citizen would not do well when thrust into a life or death survival situation. I’m old enough to remember the commercials with Dick Van Dyke that reminded people to stop, drop, and roll to put them out if they were on fire. In schools across the country, we put our children through tornado drills, fire drills, and now, even crisis drills to prepare them should there be an emergency situation.
That same preparedness should carry over to your home and person in preparation for a crisis or bug-out situation. The overwhelming message that came through in each of the “survival” shows I viewed was that it takes a great deal of strength, endurance, and yes, skill, in order to simply exist when modern conveniences are not available. Something that we take for granted, like turning on the faucet and getting a drink of water, can result in a great deal of work and caloric expenditure when put out into the wild.
The simple act of carrying a bag with weight in it when you’re not used to doing so can be enough to put someone entirely out of commission for up to several days. How can you be physically prepared for this type of situation?
Sure, the normal gym exercises can help, but just as in performance sports, activity-specific training is always better. Along that same line of thinking, using and breaking in the footwear for your bug-out situation will help you tremendously. Remember, if you have to leave on short notice, everything you need to survive will have to be carried on your person or somehow taken along with you. One of the items I purchased that will perform “double-duty” is a folding aluminum game hauler.
It is essentially a metal framed, can’t-go-flat, wheeled cart that can haul up to 250 pounds. If you live in the northern climes, a large ice-fishing type sled is also a good investment, as is a good pair of snowshoes. Your training regimen will include each of these items.
The first step is collect everything you believe you will be taking with you and weigh it. You can accomplish this with a simple bathroom scale. My pack and bug-out gear weighs approximately 60 pounds. In another post, I will describe what is in it, but for now I can tell you that there is a lot less in it than you would think.
You should plan on carrying at least one, but preferably several firearms. You will need a way to train with and account for those as well.
Finally, you should calculate the amount of weight to be allocated toward food and water.
My family’s plan if we need to leave is to head north toward less populated and more forested areas. A weekend hiking in that terrain made me painfully aware of the need to be prepared. One of the best and easiest things you can do is to carry your pack. You do not need to put everything in your pack, but you can place an equal amount of weight inside of it while you walk and/or run with it.
How to account for firearms is another question. Your neighbors may not appreciate you walking the subdivision with a firearm, regardless of if it is loaded or not, and regardless of the legalities of doing so. My solution was a short, metal pole that I filled with lead to approximate the weight of my weapon. For a handgun, a small dumbbell will suffice. If you want to be even more specific, you can purchase one of the many weight-specific “training weapons” in a bright color.
Your path should take you through rugged terrain or wooded areas if possible. Not all of your travel will be along roads, and you may want to specifically avoid them. A 30-minute walk as equipped will do wonders for your body’s adaptation and your ability to perform. I live in a relatively flat area, but drive to a hill that is approximately a quarter-mile walk to the top. I walk up and down it four to five times. I call these my “Hill pack days.” Finally, I do “cart-pulls” a few times per week. My daughters love this one. I load one of them up and pull them around my yard, which is approximately two acres. In the winter, I replaced the cart with my sled. Again, you can perform this workout two to three times per week and it provide tremendous benefit as your muscles learn and adapt to the performance of the task and also have you in shape for deer season! [ace]