So, you're gonna bug out on foot huh?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by DarkLight, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    Every couple of years I end up going through the same thing and post something similar...and then make some asinine statement about how "I'm gonna get in better shape and <fill in the blank with some bs>".

    This weekend I went camping with my two youngest (16 and 12). For all you "Too Long...Didn't Read" folks - I ain't bugging out on foot...not gonna happen.

    Lessons learned:
    • I'm 6' 6.5" tall and have a bad lower back and bad hips (bursitis and sciatica)
    • A ThermaRest RidgeRest is a piece of $#!t
    • My fat @$$ (236 lbs last I checked) is worn the hell out by what would have normally been a "moderate" hike without the pack
    • I will eat but don't necessarily enjoy Mountain House food
    • My kids really aren't fans of Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
    • I need to work on my fire starting skills (thank God for "cheats" like fatwood and cut up DuraFlame logs)
    • 5mg of melatonin really does help you fall asleep when you'd probably otherwise not
    • A "4 Person Tent"...isn't
    • Sleeping bag temperature ratings are survival ratings, NOT comfort ratings
    • Kids with zero body fat freeze their tookus' off when it gets into the 40's
    • My "equipment" isn't:
      • All season
      • Meant for backpacking
    • My kids are awesome and didn't complain, although they were honest when I pushed them to be honest
    So, what happened? Well, in no particular order, here goes.

    Sleeping Bags
    We have one (1...yes single) decent sleeping back in the family. It's a North Face Cat's Meow mummy back good to 20F (again, for survival). It was purchased for my son while he was in Boy Scouts during the REI Garage Sale probably 4 years ago. It's actually a REALLY good sleeping bag for us and I wish I had 4 more (or the women's equiv for my wife and daughters) along with silk liners which add anywhere from 10-25 degrees of warmth. My son and I agreed that the youngest would get that bag, because "manly macho bull$hit...must protect women" and all that crap. Turns out it was a good call. My youngest has no body fat, like NONE, and she was "warm enough" in the bag, but just didn't generate that much heat to begin with. She would have been in real trouble with either of the 40 degree bags. As it was, I was fine in mine, but the boy was "cool" all night. Overall, need better bags.

    Additionally, if you really go crazy, the Cat's Meow bag compresses to smaller than a socker ball and weighs just under 2.5 lbs. It's small, it's lightweight, and...being small, doesn't take up a huge amount of room. This is a picture of the Cat's Meow:

    The other two bags we took...don't compress. Like, they really don't compress at all. Once is a Coleman something or other (too lazy and back hurts too bad to go look) that literally took up the entire internal compartment of my son's backpack. Now, you may not think that's much, until I tell you he has a Kelty Redcloud 90. That liters. It is a bag with a main compartment that can literally hold a small child. The sleeping bag he used couldn't get any smaller than almost 20" tall by about 16" in diameter. So he didn't add much to that bag other than clothes (I'll rant about that later on down). Apparently it's a Coleman Redstone Super Sleeping King bag (the boy checked...ah the resiliency of youth). Can't find a picture of what ours looks like. All the ones online are 30 degree bags...his was not, it's a 40 degree so...moving on. It's likely a 4 lb bag.

    My backpack is an REI 85 liter that was actually more full than my son's. My sleeping bag was a Wenger Ruess Sleeping Bag (thank you google) that compressed enough to fit into the sleeping bag portion of the bag...with effort. And it weighs in at a colossal 6 lbs 6 oz! The only pictures I can find are huge with a lot of white space and frankly, I'm telling you NOT to buy this bag, so no link, no picture.

    End result, I was fine in that bag but not great.

    Sleeping Pads
    This, this right here? This is a piece of crap and I wouldn't use it OVER A MATTRESS!

    It isn't wide enough, it isn't long enough and it isn't thick enough. There weren't too many rocks under it, so I didn't get poked, but it was negligibly better than sleeping on the ground. It rolls, and the smallest you can get it is about 8" in diameter. At that point the laws of physics kick in and you can't get it any smaller. It takes up the hanging portion under your pack and it' just sucks. Nobody slept well on it really. Cost is $20-30.

    There are FAR better pads out there, but you're going to pay for them (which is why we have these). On recommendation from a number of people, I'm looking at a Big Agnes Insulated Double Z but it's gonna cost me $90. It's 4" thick, weighs 1 lb 5 oz and gets down to 5x8".

    Long story short, we used regular clothes. Jeans, long-sleeve shirts, Land's End fleeces, etc. Nothing special and it added a ton of weight to the packs. If I'm going to be backpacking (and I'm not convinced it's going to happen much anymore unless something changes in my life), I need clothes that are more suited to the purpose. Technical fabrics that wick moisture and trap heat and don't weigh several pounds to start.

    I did have my SmartWool sock...which I love and simply cannot rave enough about. They are awesome and amazing and fabulous and I need to buy more. They are...okay, I'll stop. But really, buy some, they rock.

    Everything else just added weight and realistically we could have worn the same clothes a second day. Yes, it's good to have a backup, but my backup alone probably weighed 3-4 lbs. That's a LOT when you are backpacking.

    I did have a really good pair of hiking shoes ( em).

    We did a combination of Mountain House food and makings for smore's. I didn't really mind the Beef Stroganoff or the Chicken Teriyaki that I swapped my son for, but neither was stellar and they gave everyone gas. Not like "we're all gonna die in this tent" gas, but...more than usual. They are also LOADED with sodium.

    Neither of them really liked the scrambled eggs with bacon and I had the granola with blueberries. It was fine, but not great. Again, this is compromise food though, you compromise a little bit of taste for convenience and weight.

    Smore's are smore's...they were awesome even with marshmallows that briefly knew the tender touch of flame. :)

    From a weight standpoint, it wasn't too bad for the amount of food we had. Just be used to it and I'd say try some ahead of time.

    We also had hot apple cider (from powder...Alpine brand I think) in the morning. That tasted normal because we have it in the winter at home. Also small, packed in with other things, didn't add much weight.

    I took a handfull of fatwood and a 1.5" section from a Duraflame log. I cut these YEARS ago when the boy was in Cub Scouts as a backup to getting a fire going. Taught the youngest about how to build different fires and we had flame fairly quickly. When I go, I take one of those long bic BBQ/Candle lighters, which worked well. I also had matches and a second lighter. Chose not to bring the flint and steel this trip.

    The Duraflame (basically paraffin and sawdust) lit fairly quickly and that slice burned for about 40 minutes...more than long enough to light the fatwood and then the larger wood above. The park we went to doesn't allow outside wood and doesn't want you moving logs on the ground. It's a bit of a racket to pay $5/locker of wood, but we got 2-2.5x what one of those bundles outside the grocery store holds for the same price so it wasn't too bad. It was dry and caught fairly quickly and made nice coals.

    Coleman 4 person tent. No...not really. 3 with gear was a stretch, it's also a warm weather tent with a mesh top and rain fly. The "Taj Mahal Tent" that we use for family (car) camping is much warmer even though it's frakin yuuuuuge! It was also heavy for what it provided. Not entirely sure how I would change that because a tent that's big enough is going to be kinda heavy, no matter what.

    I packed a couple of cups from when the boy was in scouts. Used them for a two pot cleaning of the sporks (buy them, they are awesome: Used biodegradable camp soap ( and paper towels (find your own link for paper towels!). They packed together into a single gallon zipper bag with things like the sporks, cider and soap inside the cups.

    Took some biodegradable wipes (basically baby wipes) for cleaning up hands after eating smores. All in all, worth the extra weight and size, but I'd get collapsing cups for future use.

    Each of us also had a 1L Nalgene for water as well as a 2L water bladder in my pack. There was water on site but we had enough for the short time we were there.

    Included a trash bag to hike out our trash.

    I also have a CCW so am permitted to carry in the park...and did. Small of the back carry with an 85L bag is a bad idea.

    The bags were too heavy and "full" of the wrong type of gear. We got WAY too used to car camping with the Cub Scouts and I never went with the Boy Scouts except for one hike on the Appalachian Trail. I need to rethink my load out in a BIG way. With what I have, I couldn't go far or survive long in all honesty and with that bag, I was blowing hard after the mile hike to the campground, which is distressing and painful to admit. I told my wife "If we have to bug out, it better be by car".

    Truthfully, if push came to shove, I know I would push myself until and beyond hurting myself if the safety of my family was in question, but for something like this, I gotta rethink things and get different/better/appropriate gear.
  2. runswithdogs

    runswithdogs Monkey+++

    Big Agnes bags sounds familiar.. Im trying to figure out if thats what our previous bags were?..... will get back to you on that....
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  3. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    @runswithdogs - Big Agnes makes tents, bags and sleeping pads primarily. They have recently branched out into clothing and other "gear" but their mainstay for years was those first three. Wouldn't be surprised if they are what you had. They make great gear but it is not at all inexpensive.
    Seepalaces, UncleMorgan and Ura-Ki like this.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    For trekking, underbag ground pads are best at 3/4 length and nearly full width. Saves some bulk and weight. Base camping is a different story, go full length.
  5. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    to keep warm I dig a 6 inch deep square backfill with embers from fire and cover sleeps warm most all night.
    Don't own a sleeping bag or fart sack made mine 2 large wool blankets and an oiled canvas tarp. if needed cushion bed leaves or pine needles,
    bugging out - no you can die anywhere you don't need to leave home to do it.
  6. runswithdogs

    runswithdogs Monkey+++

    Nope just checked & our old ones are called a Summit 3000XL..
    Hollowfiber fill & not up to the job. (I think we were looking at the BA ones around the same time, thats why it looked famil.)

    The ones we have now are
    Carinthia DC00c. CQ down fill.
    Comfort rated to -4 for women & -11 for men. exstreme temp down to -31.
    We took them camping in Glen Coe right after Christmas in -8 weather. Had a wool blanket we threw over top. Nice & cozy till had to get up in the morning & kick the ice off the tent LOL.
    So I rate them pretty highly & they pack down quite small. also nice & roomy
  7. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    This is similar to my first motorcycle camping roadtrips. First one was a near disaster. Carried way too much gear, much of which never got used over three days of camping. My first enlarged cargo rack on the KLR650 motorbike failed halfway along a 600 mile drive - I jury rigged it to continue.
    Temp on the last night dropped much lower than expected - I had to beg a spare sleeping bag to replace my GI blanket. My clothes and gloves were inadequate too. I froze that last night and following morning.
    Second trip a few months later went much better - new better cargo rack, added side bags to carry heavy gear lower, proper sleeping bag (I do not do mummybags!), only carried necessary gear. I was comfy, and enjoyed the trip much more.
    I learned, that I should have tested my gear and methods first on a shorter closer camp trip.
    Regarding bugging out...... no. The bike was my BOV, and it is now gone. Riding days are over, so I sold it. Health problems mean NO HIKING. Period. If I can't go by vehicle, I bug in here at home.
  8. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    No matter how comfortable the sleeping bag, in cold weather, you always have to get up and answer nature's call.
    Too bad no one's figured out how to plumb a funnel and a drain tube into a sleeping bag.

    But seriously, I gave up on the idea of bugging out on foot years ago. My wife must walk with a cane or crutches, and I couldn't leave her behind. Add that to the fact that although I'm not in the worst of shape, not 20 years old any more either when rolling locomotives bounced off my chest hairs.

    If the circumstances occurred in the summer, trying to bug out on foot with all your gear in 112 degree heat is a death wish. There' d be no way you could carry enough water and by day 2 it'd be all over but the shoutin'. The Border Patrol finds dozens of illegals in the desert every year who were trying to hoof it up from Mexico.

    So I picked one of the vehicles I own to be the BOV. It's loaded up with 3 days food, packets of water, a large fiberglass box with tarps, extra shoes, extra fluids for the vehicle (not gas). I carry a spare AGM battery that I can use to jump start the vehicle - (you carry a spare tire, don't you?). It's kept full of fuel, 4wd, comfortable enough and most of all, air conditioned. It might sound wussy, but as hot as it gets here, A/C could be a life saver, literally.

    In my situation - bugging out on foot is simply not an option. I suspect that for various reasons, others here are in the same boat. Best to drop the bravado and think seriously and realistically about it.
  9. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    First off if bugging out how far and how long. I like mountain house but requires too much water to carry. No tent just a tarp or poncho and woobie. You can't spend to much time on the road maybe three four day hike without a resupply or cache at a good layup point. Remember to if in contact you may had to ditch the ruck. Know the route and the ground travel only at night slow and quiet. My 2 cent and worth at least that
  10. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    There is an old saying: Pack light, sleep cold. That's still pretty much true unless you're buying million-dollar sleeping bags.

    Two wool blankets should do the job, with a cheap thin yoga mat to protect your swimming-pool air mattress.

    Funny thing: Those vinyl cheepies last a long time if you don't pump them up a tight as a twelve-ply tire, or lay them down on a bed of cactus.

    The trick with a wool blanket is knowing how to wrap up in one. What I call Yukon-style. There is video on YouTube:. Just search wool blanket.

    In Reality (a place very few people live) bugging out on foot is a very tiring version of Russian Roulette. Unless you have somewhere to go, you're a refugee--and Nature considers refugees highly expendable. If you do have some where to go, arrange to not have to get there on foot.

    If you can't arrange that, it's the wrong BOL.

    None of us are a young as we were when we knew everything and never made mistakes. Accordingly, don't carry a pack. It's the simply least efficient way to move one.

    Buy an old unwanted--but still 100% functional--golf dolly from a thrift store ($0.50 to $5.00 ea.) and modify it to carry your gear. (Notice I didn't say backpack.)

    They work better than a $300.00 game cart.IMHO.

    One thing about life: Nobody gets out of it alive. In a true apocalyptic scenario, where 90%+ of the human population dies, that will also include 90%+ of the preppers, no matter how well and truly they have prepped up.

    That's because an Apocalypse does not select for the strongest, smartest, fattest, fittest, most dangerous, or best equipped.

    It selects for the most adaptable, and the luckiest.

    Miss out on either category and you're toast.

    But don't worry about dying, per se--it's temporary. Just worry about dying before you do what needs to be done.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  11. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Awesome post @DarkLight I appreciate your honesty. Bugging out would not be easy for anyone but post like yours that give the true assessment of what it would be like; is very helpful.
    Seepalaces, Ganado, DarkLight and 2 others like this.
  13. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Moving at 110+ SUCKS. You strip down to necessities or you don't go far. Anybody try any of the self inflating mats? Used one before in a cot/bunk setting, never on the ground. Already hovering in the high 70's low 80's, hammock and tarp weather, lots of rain. be better served with an innertube than a sleeping bag, but wool blankets are a must, IMO.
    After the last (cough cough)show I went to of a reenactment (dropped from 80 to 30, rained all day, the company food store got left, my tent was missing all the roof that didn't hook over the poles, no bedding) I carry a hunk of bacon with me minimally when I pack out now, even store bought will last a few days if I don't eat it all by then.
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  14. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    Twice I have tried the "self-deflating" pads. Soon ended up on the hard ground. Worthless. My inflatable mattress has lasted for years. Packs smaller and lighter too.
    Seepalaces and AxesAreBetter like this.
  15. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    comfort is about layers and coverage cold or hot
    Emergency space blankets, the good ones not the throw away types are good.
    A Kelty Kettle is a hot water bottle on steroids and it makes hot drinks. Don't bother with the aluminum version it will not stand the test of time get the Stainless.
    Waterproof socks
    A Balaclava most of your heat emanates from your head and scalp in summer to protect from insect swarms.
    Neoprene wet suit top keeps your core from loosing heat makes a great pillow in summer, yes summer get wet at dusk and a wind will chill you to the bone.
    Gloves I have a couple of pairs one is Nomex pilots gloves and a pair of electricians high voltage silicone (I believe) keeps your hands from wind chill. even a pair of good dish washing gloves works.
    Good boots and changes of socks your not going far if you have foot fungus blisters or a bad fit if your feet stink take zinc tablets.
    keep your ass off the ground direct contact with the earth unless it's warm from the sun sucks the heat, As your blood flows by it gets cooled good in summer not good in winter,

    Winter is a fickle and can be a deadly encounter as this year has shown Imagine getting stuck over night in a ditch in a blizzard or out and a freak storm hits starts with rain and ends in white out snow conditions. We take for granted comfort because we live in HVAC even our vehicles have heated seats in seconds to minutes we can have a hot or iced drink. that kind of lifestyle muddles the thinking of just how damn harsh the outdoors can get with temperature swings of 70 degrees with rain and wind that equals death as people die from illness brought on by overheating or chill over exposure to any extreme can be deadly, One other factor when your uncomfortable your mind can wander, get disoriented or you make bad decisions trying to improve your situation. You cannot jump as far run as fast or carry a load as well under weather extremes, include hunger thirst and gut problems your not going to be operating at your best.

    I can still hit what I aim at from my recliner with a drink in my off hand :LOL:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2018
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  16. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    Agree completely.
    My GHB arrangements are based off my backpacking load out, but pared down to the minimum to fit comfortably in a 15L 5.11 ruck, and structured for three days minimum to get home. I have added a fisherman's vest to move as many critical items to my person as possible. (slipped crossing a stream once - almost lost my pack...), and as noted - hostile contact.. No tent or bag: as you noted a sheet of 10 mil uv stable black plastic, a couple of 55 gal contractor bags for use as a sleeping pad or stream crossing, one of those good quality bivvy sacks, and the woobie. I do pack a surplus poncho in spite of the weight. Getting wet at 40 F ill kill you eventually. MH food is edible, and will keep you alive. Probably. But the salt load sucks. In my current AO the temps are moderate: typical 15 - 110 F. But either extreme can kill.
    I've zero plans to leave here. Well plans I do have, but not the intent. Bugging out, unless to an established destination, is merely becoming a refugee.
  17. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Thanks for this link @DarkLight I have these Sporks and had bought them locally, never from Amazon. They showed compared items on your linked page. This brand makes lefty sporks also. With two lefties in the family, left handed sporks is a must.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
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  18. snake6264

    snake6264 Combat flip flop douchebag

    We Lefty's have Rights too
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  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    If we bug out it is 1000's of miles to what we would consider a safe(er) place. So, ya, likely not going to start.
    Seepalaces likes this.
  20. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I have a left handed base ball if your interested .

    Bugging out is not a camping trip, It's leaving the house behind in the event you not able to return . so it's safe to assume any thing left behind will be lost forever.
    There are plenty of discussion about bug out carts you should consider.
    If you potentially have rivers to cross ,floatation is a serious provision along with ropes and mobility preparedness.
    You can be sure that those of a darker nature are prepping as well, NOT to be victims, but to take advantage of those whom are, and use every bit of remaining technology to their advantage. Are you giving up your .223 for a blunder bust?
    Most of us may not be able to haul along all the guns we own, not that we will leave any thing functional behind .
    But the fantasy of finding ammo along the way, like in video games is foolish IMO .
    Random finding food along the way is absolutely not worth counting on , but having planted fruit trees and other food bearing trees and bushes might be helpful ,if not for you exclusively but potentially game sources that find them .
    I recommend that each member of the group has a cart and a back pack, even the dog for that matter . It might sound funny but even dogs enjoy a job .
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