I joined, not too long ago, a preparedness meetup group in Northern NJ. There seem to be only a few of us that are regulars and show up once a month to the meeting.  There are various other members of the group that may make it depending on their schedules or not.  One of the ideas we had, was of course, to test our gear and our heads for a “Bug Out Weekend.” What is the definition of this bug out weekend?  Well, it goes a little like this:

  • This is a simulated test.  The test dictates that on a Friday morning (most likely), there is some sort of man made or natural disaster where you must abandon your home for what could be a temporary or permanent period of time.  You won’t know for at least 72 hours.  You will meet at the rendezvous point with the “team” and make your way to area “X” on foot to make base camp for a few days until things settle down and we can head home to assess the situation.  

That is the loose scenario, here is the criteria the leader of the meetup group and I had come up with over lunch that must be adhered to by the group before and during the weekend.  You will notice there will be some structure to it in places and others will look like action items before the weekend occurs.

First, some criteria:

  • Those that want to participate must have been at the meetup meeting (in the future) where we discuss and plan this event. If they cannot make it they must inform the leader of the meetup group ahead of time.
  • Someone who has been out camping or hiking before.  Inexperience outside in October or November will not be a good thing. The weather gets cold at night, and if you do not know how to prepare for that you will be a liability to the team/group
  • Someone that is willing to participate.  There will be a team leader, and tasks will be assigned to each team member for the good of the team.  You must be willing to perform what is asked of you or the whole team suffers.
  • Someone who has their own gear and supplies.  I think this goes without saying.  If your Bug Out Bag is lacking and someone has extra gear, I am sure they may share as a team, however, if you do not have an adequate BOB, let’s determine that one up front so that you can supplement it before heading out
  • Someone not squeamish.  This is for those that do not want to eat small game for dinner… In the bush, there’s no grocery store to find your steak in.  Rabbit and squirrel do not have a bar code that gets scanned and miraculously show up butchered for dinner.
  • Must be able to participate for the full term of the weekend.  The weekend will be from Friday – Sunday.  Many will probably have to take part of Friday off or all of Friday if they wish to participate.  If they cannot we are going to try to give each team member GPS coordinates of the rendezvous fall back location and the Bug Out Location so they can trek in after us if that is the case.  If the weather is cold, know how to dress for the cold.
  • Bring a list of your BoB items for review and discussion for supplements. to the next Meetup Meeting
  • Communications.  Communication will be important, so bring your FMRS radios and we will set the channel for different situations. i.e. normal communications, security, etc.

To Do List before we can make this weekend happen:

  • We need to choose a date (weekend) for this test and NOT deviate from it.
  • We need to choose the location(s) of the weekend, both base camp and rendezvous point.  We decided to try to keep the location within an hour or so drive of northern NJ if we can.
  • Time Slot.  From the time you get the “phone call” that says it’s “go time” you will have 60 – 180 minutes to get to the rendezvous point.
  • Cost.  If we plan on using state property, there may be a charge per person or for the group to ‘camp’ in the state park…. Of course, if this were a real emergency, that may not be the case, but in this case if we end up on state land, we want to abide by as many rules as we can…

Skill/Task list that will be assigned to one or more members of the group:

  • Fire
  • First Aid
  • Food Harvesting / Hunting (Where Necessary) and Food Storage if required.
  • Water (finding a source and finding a way to store ample water for the team)

Daily Considerations

  • Weather.  I suggest we have this weekend, rain or shine… But that is just me…
  • Gathering firewood
  • Gathering food
  • Security.  Nightly security watch for two hours per team member is mandatory.  Sleep deprivation is a realistic side affect of bugging out and staying alert will be important.  You should feel the affects of the sleep deprivation during the weekend to understand the realism of what you are testing.

Real / Natural Threats

  • Black Bear
  • Coyote (possibilities are slim, but they are a consideration)
  • Rattle Snake and Copperhead if it is not too cold or too hot for them to be out.


  • We discussed no alcohol, and state property may dictate that, however, there are multiple considerations for this restriction.  First, the members of the group do not know each other all that well yet, and alcohol is an added variable we do not want, and again it may be against the rules… We will see as we discuss.   A small flask may be okay, but we do not want drunkards with us in the field.

Other considerations:

  • Airsoft.  To add a level of additional weight bearing equipment, and level of pseudo-realism, if you have Airsoft rifles and/or pistols I suggest you take them with you as you will get the experience of traveling on foot while having to hold and maintain your weapon, so to speak.
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We’re a group of suburban preppers in the Northeast and live in the NYC suburbs that write The Suburban Survival Blog to talk about preparedness and self-reliance out there to help others prepare for what could be an uncertain future due to economic, weather, and other reasons.