I recent­ly fin­ished Scott B. Williams, “Bug Out: The Com­plete Plan for Escap­ing a Cat­a­stroph­ic Dis­as­ter Before It’s Too Late.”

First, I would like to say that I have a ton of respect for Scott.  I fol­low his blog at scottbwilliams.com and bugoutsurvival.com.  Scott has a his­to­ry of weath­er­ing the harsh­est con­di­tions for fun and explo­ration.  He prac­tices what he preach­es and has tak­en on adven­tures in a kayak at will, that I would not have done by choice, although I might dream about them, I am sure.

How­ev­er, when “Bug Out: The Com­plete Plan for Escap­ing a Cat­a­stroph­ic Dis­as­ter Before It’s Too Late” came along, I had to pick up a copy.  In fact, I down­loaded it on my Kin­dle some time ago, but when I acci­den­tal­ly lost it to a busi­ness trip on the plane, well, I did­n’t get the chance to read it until recent­ly when I pur­chased my iPad.

That said, I am going to pref­ace the rest of this post with a state­ment that says, I per­son­al­ly think I am poor at rat­ing books and prod­ucts.  Par­tial­ly because I do not use a set review­ing cri­te­ria, which I would like to change.  If you have ever seen any of Nut­n­fan­cy’s videos, he uses set cri­te­ria for his reviews of prod­ucts mak­ing his videos head and shoul­ders above oth­er prod­uct reviews… But this isn’t about Nut­n­fan­cy, so back to Scot­t’s book.

One of the first things that struck me was Scot­t’s for­ay into the fan­ta­sy and real­i­ty of liv­ing in a bug-out sit­u­a­tion ‘off-grid.’  He went into some detail of the per­spec­tive the per­son or fam­i­ly must have in order to bug out.  I thought this was par­tic­u­lar­ly telling because I think we all have the fan­ta­sy of trekking through the moun­tain to get to our Bug Out Loca­tion safe­ly, but what if there is no safe­ty, and what if there is no BOL yet.  I think the psy­chol­o­gy of bug­ging out is impor­tant, and I put some thought into this because if I have to bug out, chances are I am bug­ging out alone.  So much of the psy­chol­o­gy of it was of inter­est to me, even if it was not labeled ‘the psy­chol­o­gy of.’  For the record, I prob­a­bly have too much ‘stuff’ in my bug-out bag, but if I am going to hoof it on foot for sev­en to 10 days, there is the equip­ment I feel I might need.

This brings me to the sec­tion regard­ing the bug-out bag itself.  I thought that this was well thought out.  I also felt this was for more the neo­phyte that was just learn­ing what they may or may not need in their BOB.  Now, take that with a grain of salt, because I have spent a LOT of time think­ing about my true needs if I were to Bug Out.  i.e. in the inter­est of time, I have what I feel is a lot of food in my BOB.  Emer­gency Rations, (ER Bars), MRE main meals, etc. because hunt­ing for food on the way to my BOL can take a lot of time.  I could light­en my load, by tak­ing it out, but I would be wast­ing valu­able time that I could be get­ting from point A to B by doing so.  That does not mean I do not have the means to hunt an fish in my bag.  I cer­tain­ly do, but in the inter­est of time and effort,  I choose to be a lit­tle over-pre­pared.  Now, Scott, in the same sec­tion of the book also goes over cloth­ing, packs you may want to look into for your BOB, procur­ing and puri­fy­ing water, mak­ing fire, cook­ing, and more.  He makes no bones about telling you to buy a large pack of dis­pos­able lighters to save your­self a hel­lu­va headache mak­ing a fire, vs. the bow drill method, which, I think we should all know any­way.  I par­tic­u­lar­ly liked the con­tent about machetes and knives.  He makes good sense of what to own and where they make good use.

Loca­tion Selec­tion.  Scott goes into a good high-lev­el dis­cus­sion here.  He cov­ers, in some detail cli­mate, pop­u­la­tion den­si­ties, what resources are in each geo­graph­ic loca­tion, thoughts on geo-caching, route plan­ning (a weak area of mine), nat­ur­al resources you can uti­lize, nav­i­ga­tion, and much more.  I found pieces of this rather use­ful, and oth­ers not so much.  Not because the infor­ma­tion was­n’t good.  It was all very well thought out, but because I had giv­en much thought already to my own bug-out plan, where my Bug Out loca­tion is, what resources are already there, etc.  So this area was mild­ly help­ful to me and I think would be bet­ter suit­ed for the begin­ner, won­der­ing how the heck they are going to choose where to go if the SHTF.  Still, I do not want to dis­count it, I did learn some­thing from it.

Last­ly (before Part Two of the book) Scott dis­cuss­es trans­porta­tion (real­iz­ing I may have got­ten the sec­tions screwed up, for­give me) meth­ods to your BOL, wher­ev­er that may be.  He knows many of us can­not afford to go out and buy anoth­er bug-out vehi­cle to bug out in.  So he dis­cuss­es, bikes (which are now more con­sid­er­a­tion after read­ing the book, but real­ize by BOB is too big for a bike), motor­cy­cles (which I know Scott prefers from his blog­ging), boats/kayaks, mules, hors­es, and don­keys, and frankly using your own feet to hoof it to your BOL if you have to.  There is cer­tain­ly more to this sec­tion than men­tioned, but of all the sec­tions of this book, this one gave me the most to think about, I believe, liv­ing in the sub­urbs of NYC.

Now, in Part II of this book, Scott dis­cuss­es wilder­ness bug-out loca­tions in North Amer­i­ca (lim­it­ing to the low­er 48 states).  This was an inter­est­ing sec­tion to me.  The rea­son I say that is that I trav­el on busi­ness quite a bit all over the low­er 48 states, and this will make an out­stand­ing ref­er­ence to those BOLs if some­thing hap­pens and I am trav­el­ing for work at the time, mak­ing the BOL a tem­po­rary retreat.  Now, I will tell you that my phi­los­o­phy of bug­ging out dif­fers from Scot­t’s.  I think your BOL or fall­back loca­tions should be semi or per­ma­nent loca­tions with tools you need to home­stead if nec­es­sary.  How­ev­er, if you fol­low Scot­t’s advice on caching, you could live in a semi-per­ma­nent way on almost any of the ter­rain he dis­cuss­es in part 2 of this book.  I real­ly would like to learn more about his thoughts on geo-caching and chat with him about it.  Maybe, if he is up for it, I can do an inter­view post with him on geo-caching for your wilder­ness BOL.  That would be pret­ty cool.  Hon­est­ly though, as I leafed through read­ing this sec­tion, I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in my own BOL geog­ra­phy so when I got to that sec­tion, I was intent­ly read­ing about it.  While I did­n’t learn much that was new about it, it helped me ver­i­fy that I was on track with my thoughts about that par­tic­u­lar loca­tion.

The last sec­tion of the book was the Appen­dix.  Here Scott went into some oth­er good books as resources, what he car­ries in his own Bug Out Bag, and more.  I always like learn­ing what oth­ers car­ry.  It helps me re-assess my own needs.

In sum­ma­ry, this was a good book.  How­ev­er, for those won­der­ing how to take the first steps in prepar­ing to bug out with no frills infor­ma­tion on where to go and how to assess which area is best for you based on your geog­ra­phy, this book is a great read.  I claim to be no expert, but a stu­dent and I learned from this book.  Going for­ward, I  will con­tin­ue to ref­er­ence it on my iPad when I trav­el on busi­ness so that I am more aware of where to research where to Bug Out to as well.  I will prob­a­bly order a paper copy soon to keep on my book­shelf as well.

Thanks, Scott for the book, it was a good read!

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