JJ over at recently posted an article on adaptability. He asked a question at the end. “What things can you suggest for helping people to remain adaptable in their Bug Out Plans?”

I answered with (spelling errors and all….)

“Mobility and Communication are important in ground ops for the soldier, and also for the Prepper. The Prepper needs flexibility in hid bug-out transportation options, including a way to stay put if mobility somehow is denied him. ON FOOT might be his only recourse.

Having a way to communicate is good, too. This assume he has someone to communicate WITH. If solo, or a lone wolf, he should have to means of receiving information whether en route, or at his end point. Knowledge of the situation and new events can be critical. The news can also help him determine when it is okay to return home.

GPS is nice, but maps are forever. Good maps, map reading skills and a decent compass should be in any bug out pack. Topographic supplements to standard maps can be helpful, too, especially if moving cross-country.”

After thinking about it a bit, I thought it might do to expand on that a little.

“Bugging Out” means many things to many people, and it all has to do with the starting and end points, and the myriad concerns along the way. The needs and means of a bug out will be different for just about everyone. And for each bug out plan, there may be necessary alterations unforeseen until they manifest themselves on the road.

Adaptable“. JJ’s question is huge in scope. “What things can you suggest for helping people to remain adaptable in their Bug Out Plans?” Since describing all bug outs with a simple set of conditions is laughably absurd, it would seem that presenting a framework for bug out adaptability would be equally foolish.

It isn’t….

Adaptability suggests the existence of available options, and the ability to apply them to changing conditions. For the bugger-out, adaptability is knowing what to do and how to do it, and with which resources. Bug out techniques and tools are usable in many situations.

Let’s set some loose definitions pertaining to the bug out.
Bug-out: Getting away alive, and staying that way on the run, or until arrival at the BOL.
Mobility: Moving, by any means, and at any speed, with or without delays.
Surviving: Maintaining health while en route.
Communications: Passive or active information exchange or collection, electronic or otherwise.
Navigation: Self-guided passage through an area, with reference materials and /or tools.

Creating Adaptability

How do you create adaptability in your bug out plan? Provide yourself with options. I’ll present you with yet another LIST that has the same disclaimer that all lists have which is: “This list in no way represents the complete spectrum of options available blah, blah, blah….” Yes, I hate lists, too, but they are indispensable to the planning prepper. The trick here is for you to create your own list, using this one, or another as a starting point. Tailor it to your bug out needs, fears, concerns and expectations. Do what you will, but provide yourself with OPTIONS.

Mobility. Consider various modes of transportation. Some could be called “primary”, and others “secondary”. Practical back-up is always desirable. Which of these might fit your needs? Which might serve as a back-up alternative to another?

  • Foot
  • Bicycle
  • Scooter or Motorcycle
  • Car or Truck
  • Commercial vehicle or RV
  • Horse or Mule
  • Kayak, Boat
  • Airplane, Helicopter or Ultra-lite aircraft

Surviving. Staying alive while transiting involves food and water, shelter, first-aid and defenses. It is a huge topic, and if you think about it, EVERY survivalist /prepper web site on the net attempts to make a career out of describing this in detail. I’ll try to condense it into another list….

Food. Prepared food, and food in the wild. Includes foods of any type. Learn how to “harvest” while on foot if need be. Carry the small fold-out guides to vegetation for the bug out areas.
Water. Carry water, but purification and filtration too. Water is heavy, and the person on the move needs a lot of it. Without a vehicle equipped to carry it, alternate sources will be needed. The quality of those sources is not guaranteed. Never trust that clear water is safe water.
Shelter. Vehicle, RV, tent, tarp, poncho. Have some sort of secondary resource in your things. At a minimum, know how to seek or build shelter from available materials.
First-aid. Full service First-Aid kit, with blood stop and wound treatment /management. Think cuts, punctures, tears, abrasions, bites and infections.
Defenses. With what are you skilled or comfortable? Firearms, bow or crossbow, slingshot, sword, machete, knife, spear, martial arts or other hand-to-hand fighting skills. Dogs, trip-wire, flash units. Vehicle alarms, cameras, perimeter alarms.

Communications. Without some way of gathering information, your view of the changing world may be limited to only what your eyes can see, and what passing contacts might tell you. Assuming for the moment that you are on foot, or using some means devoid of vehicle power, the presence of a portable shortwave combination radio will provide a wide range of information sources. Various bands can be monitored for news and information. These receivers are safe in that they don’t broadcast and give away your position.

Hand held HAM radios provide two-way comms that are not possible with “CB” sets. Their range is greater and, if repeater stations are online, you can make contact over even longer distances. Since it might be possible for others to locate you, establishing rules for when and how you will speak to others should be established.

Navigation. Getting from point to point is easy with the latest in GPS, or with excellent maps and the tools to use them. Since any GPS worth its salt will teach you how to use it, I’ll make a few points about maps. To start, you can visit our page of map links. Consider that a map and a compass won’t need batteries. They will give you more information about terrain and physical features than any GPS. Crossing overland is easier with detailed maps. If the military decides to enact one of their degradation programs, and throw off GPS coordinates, your map will be unaffected. You won’t really notice the difference in carry weight if you are on foot. Having both electronic and print navigational aids provides you with primary and backup tools. In the event that you lose both, having geolocating skills is you most likely fallback.

2 comments to Adaptability

  • Nickie

    Just a thought – could you address the scenario of a single 20-30 something woman without a lot of family in the area in which she lives?

    How does she get started? How can she find a group with which she can connect?

    • L P

      Getting started is a simple as working the list: Food, Water, Shelter and Medical. For food, she should slowly increase the depth of what she currently stocks. As for water, she should stock 2 gallons for herself for each day she expects to need it. For example, if she is concerned about outages in the past that lasted for say, 3 days, she might want to stock up 10 gallons- to start. To add to this, she needs filtration of some sort – portable filtration such as offered by Berkey Systems or Katadyn. Hopefully, she has a home. At a minimum, a good single person tent could be added. Medical supplies start with any of her regularly taken medication, first-aid supplies and seasonal items such as antihistamines, cold-flu meds, chap stick ans such. These are a start. Her plan develops from there as she solidifies what it is she believe she needs to prep for, and how she thinks she can best prepare to handle it.

      Finding a group? She can try these two sites, to begin with. and Additionally, she might try this site, but it is not so clear cut as it first seems. It requires time to get a response worth pursuing.

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