Bugging Out: Screw Society and Save Yourself

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

No one can seriously deny that there’s a lot of unrest out there lately.
And it’s coming from an increasingly diverse number of directions.
Tom Woods even recently penned an essay in which he posits that American society has arrived at a place in which it has become time to admit that “the differences are irreconcilable,” and he advises we all prepare to go our separate ways.
It may well be time to conclude that -- between the powers that shouldn’t be, and an endlessly quarreling public ever fighting for support and control of those powers – long before any voluntaryist vision prevails en masse, society itself may simply dissolve into chaos.  In other words, people may well just decide that, in effect, suicide is easier than changing.  The dollar may also collapse.  World War Three could take wings.  Any number of other scenarios might arise in such a witch’s brew of discord, fear, fighting, infighting, and reckless printing of currency out of thin air under a burden of over $20 trillion of government debt.
If so, then so be it.  That’s their choice.  The choice of so many blind statists and societal livestock.  But it’s not mine.  And it doesn’t have to be yours, either. 
I recently prepared for myself, at very little cost (in fact, I already had most of the contents laying around the house), a “bug-out” bag designed to be both lightweight and minimalistic, yet provide the best chances of either short or long-term survival in the wild and/or on the run.
I started with a CVLIFE 50L woodland camo military tactical backpack, currently available for about $40-50, and outfitted it with the following gear and supplies.  They are listed in no particular order, and in some cases I’ve included brand names either for frame of reference, or because I feel they offer a superior product for a decent price.
* Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle with three 8-round magazines (loaded)
* 26 additional rounds Remington .22 LR hollow-point 36 grain ammo
* Hatchet with blade cover
* Swiss Army Knife with can and bottle openers
* Deerslayer buck knife with belt holster
* Rogue River Woodland camo folding rescue knife
* One roll toilet paper
* Colgate toothbrush
* Colgate toothpaste (small)
* Spool of dental tape (heavy-gauge floss)
* Two disposable twin-blade shaving razors
* Lifestraw personal water filter
* Small Crayola pencil sharpener
* Small pointed wooden dowel
* Small notepad
* Small sharpened pencil with eraser
* 1-gallon plastic slider freezer bags
* Clutch of Diamond/Ohio Blue Tip wooden matches with striker strip
* Butane cigarette lighter with adjustable flame
* 3 bio-degradable eating forks
* Pair of 7 X 35 binoculars with lens covers and soft case
* Woodland camo LED flashlight with batteries
* 3 extra AAA Duracell batteries
* 1 small bottle dish soap
* 1 small pump spray bottle Deep Woods Off bug repellent
* Small plastic shell magnetic compass
* 2 drab green military surplus canteens
* 100’ nylon rope
* 2 small Sterno emergency 9-hour candles
* 1 small translucent watertight film canister
* Small Johnson & Johnson first aid kit
* 1 small non-stick frying pan
* 1 small aluminum eating/cooking dish
* Vigilant Trails emergency fishing kit
* 1 jumbo-sized bag Jack Link’s beef jerky
* 1 can Hormel beef chili with beans
* 2 cans Star*Kist solid white albacore tuna in water
* 5 extra rounds Winchester 125 grain .38 hollow-point ammo
Carried separately outside:
* Taurus 85 .38 revolver (loaded) with Fobus standard carry belt/pocket holster
Of course, there is certainly room for this list to be adjusted, modified, or added to (though it is best to keep pack weight under 30 pounds at all times).  It is also possible to bring additional unpacked items (as witness the Taurus 85 above), such as a heavier caliber rifle, silver and gold coin, a rain poncho and/or rolled sleeping bag.  But remember:  The goal is not luxury, nor is it meeting an enemy on a battlefield armed to the nines.  The goal is strictly survival.  Travelling light.  Staying out of sight.  Eating and drinking.  Escaping and evading, perhaps.  Maybe seeking rescue.  Staying warm.  Keeping your head down.  Staying alive.
Many of the items were selected with a view towards their potential multiple purposes.  For example, the dental tape is not only useful for care of teeth, but also for twine, fishing line, or makeshift bootlaces.  The small pencil sharpener and dowel may be used to produce shavings for dry fire kindling (the sharpener can also be used for the same purpose with small twigs).  The minimal cardboard packaging on several items can be burned.  The bug repellant is flammable.  The shaving razors provide an alternative cutting instrument.  Empty cans may be used for additional cooking, or gathering water.
I keep my backpack loaded up and ready to grab at a moment’s notice.  Often, I just throw it on my back and go for long hikes in the woods with my dog.  It’s good exercise, and good practice.
Perhaps I’ll never need a “bug-out” bag, and the problems will resolve themselves.  But either way, I’m certainly not going to rely on a statist, illibertarian society that has all but conclusively proven they are capable only of creating and exacerbating problems for any answers.
Meantime, the ability to “bug-out” at will is a darned good personal insurance policy.  Build one of your own as soon as you can, and be ready.

Your rating: None
Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 153

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales.  He has also written and published poetry, non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues.  He currently lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University.  Alex's Amazon page can be found here, and his work may also be found at both Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.  His MeWe group can be found here.


Jim Davies's picture

That part of your title, Alex, that says "Screw Society" is repugnant to any decent human being and to the aims and purposes of this site and the whole libertarian movement.
Humanity is being oppressed by the evil of government, and the stated purpose of STR is to "strike the root" of that evil, in the hope of liberating society including oneself. One can join that endeavor out of a love for one's fellow-man, or simply to preserve and/or enhance one's own life. Either motive will do fine. To abandon it, as you do above, denies both.
You have expressed exactly what I presented as #1 in my Warning! Poison! - namely, the perverse attitude that says "The Task is Hopeless." The task is by no means hopeless. The method I favor as you know is the simple one of finding one friend at a time to apply his mind to the nature of government and freedom; exponential growth will destroy the root of evil within a single generation. But good luck to anyone who can think of a better way!
Like any other task, of course it may fail; and there's no harm in taking out an "insurance policy" just in case, and your advice above is very good for that purpose. What I vigorously denounce is your assumption that it must inevitably fail. That is defeatism, writ large.

Will Groves's picture

The AI-trollbot strikes again.  As ever, as it claims to promote human freedom, it fires its transistors at anything that doesn't jive with its database of libertarian orthodoxy.  Normally, "Jim Davies" is stuck in an infinite loop defending "self-ownership."  Doubling the irony today, when Alex writes about taking specific action to increase the odds of his self-preservation, the machine invokes a defense of society.  The collapse of society might mean the electric grid going down, which I can see would be worrisome for a machine.
The US is an empire and no empire has stood the test of time.  Each collapses in a unique way; some slowly, like the Roman empire, and some quickly, like the USSR.  Despite what good news we might hear, observation of our surroundings shows that the empire is in decline.  What tips a complex system into sudden failure can't be anticipated beforehand.  It's not a mechanism.  Some components are deterministic, but human factors are critical and unpredictable.   If circumstances change fast, screwing society and looking out for yourself (and family, I assume) is eminently sensible.  You can't take care of anyone if you don't take care of yourself first. 
Human life has been so fundamentally altered by the proliferation of cheap energy and the technological boom fueled by it that we can hardly imagine life on a smaller, simpler, more local scale.  In centuries past, family, clan, and tribe were the fundamental units.  Implicit trust, responsibility, and obligations applied to the innermost circle, and these diminished further out.  Technological civilization has been a shrinking ring-fence on liberties, and it doesn't follow that societal collapse would have deleterious effects on personal liberties, especially insofar government authority is concerned. 

Jim Davies's picture

Come now, Will, don't be greedy.  You've won the Black Rosette for January, surely you don't want the February one as well?

mishochu's picture

Great stuff, do not wait for the masses to understand or permit your own liberty. Prepare for it here and now. Even if it means you have to starve the beast. or get ready for its collapse.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Glad you liked the column.  :-)

Paul's picture

That little pencil sharpener sounds like a good idea, hadn't heard of that. You need at least an extra box of .22LR, maybe more (for trade items if nothing else).

Tarp or poncho? Netting to keep bugs off the face? Emergency blanket?

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Between what's in the AR-7 magazines and the 26 extra rounds, that's 50 total.  Plus 10 rounds total for the .38 -- I think that's a good balance.
And yes, as stated, there's certainly room for other items and modification of the list -- especially depending on time of year.
But again, weight and travelling light is a paramount consideration.

Douglas Herman's picture

Alex! Dude! You already live in the primo bug out state of Vermont. BTW, what's the pack weigh? And why so many knives? Trade items?
When I rode thru Vermont in 1984, the guy at the border w Canada welcomed me and said the north part was owned by Canadians and the southern part owned by Bostonians. If you "bug out" which direction wpould you go? Me, I'd go to Bernie's house on the lake.
Keep up the good work, and perhaps you could host a "bug out" party and wake folks up. But if too many peeps know you're a prepper, they'll just flock to you and beg for help when TSHTF.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Hi Doug:  Good to hear from you!  Pack's just under 30 lbs. now.  Knives can break, and just like with guns, different ones are for different things.
Not saying which way I'd go while bugging out.  :-)  Would depend on the cause anyway.
Few locally know I'm a prepper -- I definitely don't advertise it and for the reasons you say.
Glad you liked the column.  :-)

mjackso6's picture

Unfortunately, this wouldn't work for me. I've got family who would need protection under these circumstances, including young children who aren't in my custody. I couldn't just "bug out" and leave them to deal with whatever was coming.

Glock27's picture

Alex. I smile at your bug out bag, but, exactly where are you going to bug out too? That is a question many preppers have asked themselves after reviewing the potential; they just ain't no where to really bug out too because everyone else is going to be bugging out also. It will be crowded. The current trending philosophy in prepperdom is to maintain your position and build a relationship with neighbors, and defend your position.
What would you advocate the elderly to do, or those with physical disabilities, or medical problems. We can't bug out. I have more fear over what the government is going to do if this catastrophic event were to take place.
Please forgive me Alex, but I think you should be searching for a more solid plan than running out the door and into the woods, a your essay seems to imply. Ah! The woods. That place is going to be chuck full of preppers. Everybody and their brother and sister and mother and father are going to be in the woods hunting for food to shoot or trap or fish. Prepping is not as simple as packing up a bag and bugging. Today it is becoming more and more of an art and a science.
I am not certain at this point if your are truly serious about prepping or if this is an experimental thing for you. Is it experimental, or is it serious?