Recent­ly I gave a pre­sen­ta­tion to a group of new to sea­soned prep­pers, clear­ly in var­i­ous stages of their pre­pared­ness jour­neys.  For some in the pre­sen­ta­tion, each stage of under­stand­ing was a lit­tle over­whelm­ing because there was so much to think about.  For oth­ers, they had very spe­cif­ic ques­tions about areas they had a spe­cif­ic inter­est in.  I not­ed that on more than one occa­sion bug­ging out and shel­ter­ing in were of par­tic­u­lar inter­est, hence the birth of this blog post.  It is essen­tial­ly writ­ten for those who do not have or can­not cur­rent­ly afford a bug-out loca­tion in the event they have to get out of dodge pri­or to or dur­ing a SHTF sit­u­a­tion.  And, while I know this will not apply direct­ly to every­one who attend­ed the pre­sen­ta­tion, this is for you so you can think cre­ative­ly about where you live, when and where you may want to go if the emer­gency sit­u­a­tion dic­tates it.  That said, let’s go… 

When the unex­pect­ed strikes and soci­ety’s fab­ric unrav­els, hav­ing a bug-out loca­tion (BOL) is not just a retreat—it’s a neces­si­ty for sur­vival. A BOL is more than just a place to escape the chaos; it’s a bas­tion of safe­ty, a strong­hold where one can wait out the storm. It’s a prop­er­ty strate­gi­cal­ly cho­sen to max­i­mize your chances of endur­ing crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions that force you to leave your pri­ma­ry res­i­dence. The selec­tion of a BOL is a metic­u­lous process, one that requires care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of sev­er­al key fac­tors to ensure that, when the time comes, your haven stands as an impen­e­tra­ble fortress against the uncer­tain­ties of a world in dis­ar­ray.

Selecting the Ideal Bug Out Location: A Checklist for Survival

  • Prox­im­i­ty and Iso­la­tion: Your BOL should be nes­tled far enough from urban cen­ters to avoid the mass­es, yet at a rea­son­able dis­tance that con­sid­ers poten­tial fuel short­ages. An ide­al loca­tion is one that’s off the beat­en path, shroud­ed in nature’s cloak, offer­ing seclu­sion and min­i­mal vis­i­bil­i­ty to keep hos­tile encoun­ters at bay.
  • Water and Self-Suf­fi­cien­cy: Water is the lifeblood of any shel­ter. Ensur­ing a reli­able water source is indis­pens­able for sur­vival, neces­si­tat­ing stor­age and purifi­ca­tion solu­tions. Self-suf­fi­cien­cy is para­mount, with inde­pen­dent pow­er sources like solar pan­els, and pro­vi­sions for gar­den­ing and live­stock to sus­tain for extend­ed peri­ods.
  • Struc­ture and Secu­ri­ty: The BOL must be a sol­id struc­ture, a sanc­tu­ary against the ele­ments and poten­tial dis­as­ters. It should offer ample space for your fam­i­ly, food, and water, with secu­ri­ty mea­sures such as nat­ur­al bar­ri­ers and strate­gic cam­ou­flage to elude detec­tion. Always have a plan for perime­ter defense and emer­gency exits to avoid being cor­nered.

Navigating Legalities and Longevity

  • Nat­ur­al Dis­as­ter Pro­tec­tion and Famil­iar­i­ty: Select a loca­tion with min­i­mal risk of nat­ur­al threats, one that can with­stand earth­quakes, floods, or wild­fires. Famil­iar­i­ty with the ter­rain is vital, as it can pro­vide a home-field advan­tage in times of cri­sis.
  • Afford­abil­i­ty and Legal Con­sid­er­a­tions: Bal­ance the cost of acqui­si­tion and devel­op­ment with your bud­get, focus­ing on essen­tial fea­tures with­out com­pro­mis­ing qual­i­ty. It’s cru­cial to under­stand the legal­i­ties—zon­ing require­ments, per­mits, and gov­ern­ment regulations—to ensure your BOL’s devel­op­ment is unim­ped­ed by legal hur­dles.

In our jour­ney of pre­pared­ness, we under­stand that bug­ging out is not a leisure­ly escape but a strate­gic move for sur­vival. The ground­work we lay today in select­ing the right BOL is the bedrock upon which we can build a future, even when faced with the unthink­able. With these con­sid­er­a­tions in mind, we move for­ward, not with fear, but with the con­fi­dence that comes from thor­ough, informed plan­ning.

Proceed with Caution, You May Not be the Only Ones Thinking Like This

As we delve into the process of bug­ging out, it’s cru­cial to pro­ceed with cau­tion. The very attrib­ut­es that make a loca­tion seem per­fect for your bug-out plans might also attract oth­ers with the same idea dur­ing emer­gen­cies or soci­etal col­lapse. Here are essen­tial con­sid­er­a­tions to ensure your bug-out loca­tion (BOL) remains a safe haven:

  • Scout for Unique­ness and Seclu­sion:
    • Choose a BOL with unique fea­tures that may deter oth­ers; per­haps it’s the chal­leng­ing ter­rain or a hid­den entrance that makes it less obvi­ous.
    • Ensure the BOL is at an appro­pri­ate dis­tance from urban cen­ters to avoid the chaos of a mass exo­dus, yet acces­si­ble con­sid­er­ing poten­tial gas short­ages dur­ing emer­gen­cies. Prox­im­i­ty to urban areas should be bal­anced with the need for iso­la­tion to reduce the like­li­hood of unwant­ed encoun­ters.
  • Water and Self-Suf­fi­cien­cy:
    • A reli­able water source is indis­pens­able. Opt for a prop­er­ty with a nat­ur­al water source or near a pond, and remem­ber to con­sid­er sea­son­al vari­a­tions that may affect water avail­abil­i­ty.
    • Imple­ment self-suf­fi­cien­cy mea­sures, such as solar pan­els, and plan for gar­den­ing and live­stock to sus­tain for extend­ed peri­ods. A BOL should ide­al­ly have at least two water sources and the capa­bil­i­ty to grow a gar­den for ongo­ing nour­ish­ment.
  • Defense and Longevi­ty:
    • Secu­ri­ty mea­sures are non-nego­tiable. Ele­vat­ed ground, nat­ur­al bar­ri­ers, and cam­ou­flage can help avoid detec­tion and pre­vent ambush­es. Addi­tion­al­ly, con­sid­er safe­ty and defense mea­sures, such as van­tage points and defen­sive struc­tures.
    • Plan for the longest pos­si­ble stay with­in your bud­get, account­ing for food, water, and fuel require­ments, and adapt to sus­tain­able options over time. Main­tain a stock­pile at your BOL focus­ing on long shelf-life and non-per­ish­able foods.

Remem­ber, hav­ing more than one BOL is advised due to unpre­dictable dis­as­ters and issues like road clo­sures, theft, or inac­ces­si­bil­i­ty. Vis­it your BOL in all sea­sons to under­stand the cli­mate and ensure acces­si­bil­i­ty dur­ing dif­fer­ent times of the year. And last­ly, pro­tect your retreat by block­ing most entry points, set­ting up perime­ter defens­es, and cre­at­ing boo­by traps to safe­guard against unwel­come vis­i­tors.

By con­sid­er­ing these aspects, we can for­ti­fy our BOLs, ensur­ing that when we need to bug out, we have a secure and sus­tain­able loca­tion that will pro­vide shel­ter and safe­ty dur­ing the most crit­i­cal times.

Hunting Camps

In the realm of bug­ging out, hunt­ing camps emerge as a top-tier choice for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. Here’s why these remote sanc­tu­ar­ies can serve as your ulti­mate sur­vival retreat:

  • Abun­dance of Water Sources: Hunt­ing camps are often blessed with a vari­ety of water sources. From ponds to wells, and some­times even swim­ming pools, these camps ensure that you have access to water for all crit­i­cal needs—drinking, cook­ing, and hygiene. It’s essen­tial, how­ev­er, to have a plan for water purifi­ca­tion to guar­an­tee safe­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty (Urban Sur­vival Site).
  • Self-Suf­fi­cien­cy and Food Secu­ri­ty:
    • Non-Per­ish­able Food Stor­age: Stock up on canned goods, grains, and oth­er non-per­ish­ables that have a long shelf life.
    • Agri­cul­ture and Live­stock: A small gar­den can yield fresh pro­duce, and select­ing suit­able live­stock for the prop­er­ty can pro­vide a con­tin­u­ous food source. Research­ing the best options for your spe­cif­ic cli­mate and ter­rain is key (Cheap­er Than Dirt Blog).
  • Secu­ri­ty and Defense:
    • Strate­gic Loca­tion: Ide­al­ly, your hunt­ing camp should be con­cealed from main roads and chal­leng­ing to access, adding to its secu­ri­ty.
    • Build­ings and Shel­ter: Mul­ti­ple build­ings can accom­mo­date your group and pro­vide nec­es­sary stor­age for sup­plies.
    • Ener­gy and Cook­ing: Propane tanks are vital for heat­ing and cook­ing, with alter­na­tives like char­coal grills and emer­gency stoves as back­ups.
    • Pro­tec­tion: Firearms are a sta­ple in hunt­ing camps, not only for hunt­ing but also for defense. Ammu­ni­tion stor­age becomes equal­ly cru­cial.
    • For­ti­fi­ca­tions: Enhance your cam­p’s secu­ri­ty with perime­ter fenc­ing, hid­den cam­eras, and rein­forced win­dows and doors to safe­guard against any threats (Off Grid Sur­vival).

More­over, while hunt­ing camps score high on the sur­vival index with an impres­sive 86 out of 100, it’s imper­a­tive to acknowl­edge the chal­lenges they might present. The jour­ney to such a camp requires metic­u­lous plan­ning, con­sid­er­ing the ter­rain, weath­er, and dis­tance. Per­mis­sions and legal rights to the land are non-negotiable—ensure you have the right to use the camp as your bug-out loca­tion. Take into account the poten­tial lim­i­ta­tions, such as the absence of near­by med­ical facil­i­ties or lim­it­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tion options. Always con­duct a thor­ough eval­u­a­tion based on your pre­pared­ness lev­el and indi­vid­ual needs to deter­mine if a hunt­ing camp is the right fit for your bug­ging-out strat­e­gy.

Abandoned Warehouses or Commercial Facilities

In the quest for the ide­al ‘bug out’ loca­tion, aban­doned ware­hous­es or com­mer­cial facil­i­ties present a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty. These struc­tures, often over­looked, can pro­vide a wealth of resources for the savvy prep­per. Here’s how we can trans­form these for­got­ten spaces into a secure refuge when bug­ging out:

    • Struc­tur­al Integri­ty and Safe­ty: Before we claim an aban­doned ware­house as our tem­po­rary shel­ter, our first step is to assess its struc­tur­al safe­ty. We must check for signs of dam­age or decay that could com­pro­mise our safe­ty dur­ing our stay. This involves inspect­ing the foun­da­tion, walls, and roof for sta­bil­i­ty, ensur­ing the build­ing can serve as a reli­able haven (City Prep­ping).
  • Strate­gic Posi­tion­ing and Perime­ter Secu­ri­ty:
      • Loca­tion: Opt for a one-sto­ry build­ing that’s out in the open, away from major traf­fic routes or areas prone to attack. A less con­spic­u­ous loca­tion min­i­mizes the chances of unwel­come encoun­ters.
      • Secur­ing Entry Points: Once the build­ing is deemed safe, we must secure all doors and win­dows. Locks should be rein­forced, and any bro­ken win­dows or doors can be blocked off with boards or stur­dy fur­ni­ture to pre­vent unau­tho­rized access.
  • Set­ting Up Camp and Resource Uti­liza­tion:
      • Camp Set­up: Estab­lish a small, well-insu­lat­ed room near an exit to serve as our camp. This strate­gic place­ment allows for a quick evac­u­a­tion if nec­es­sary, while blan­kets and oth­er insu­lat­ing mate­ri­als around doors and win­dows help retain warmth.
      • Water and Food Sup­plies: We’ll need to locate and secure water sources – check­ing water heaters and out­side sources, as well as any remain­ing facil­i­ties with­in the build­ing. For food sup­plies, pantries or any stor­age areas in com­mer­cial build­ings may still house non-per­ish­able items that can be cru­cial for our sur­vival.
      • Fire Safe­ty: Cau­tion is para­mount when con­sid­er­ing build­ing a fire inside due to the risk of gas leaks and flam­ma­ble mate­ri­als. Always have a fire extin­guish­er on hand and ensure prop­er ven­ti­la­tion to pre­vent car­bon monox­ide buildup.
  • Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness and Exit Strate­gies:
    • Escape Plan: It’s crit­i­cal that we have a well-rehearsed plan of escape. We must be famil­iar with all exits and estab­lish a ren­dezvous point out­side the build­ing to regroup in case of an emer­gency evac­u­a­tion.
    • Adapt­abil­i­ty: Our abil­i­ty to adapt these spaces for sur­vival is exem­pli­fied in sce­nar­ios like those shown in “Camp­ing in Alaska’s Deep­est Snow with a Dugout Sur­vival Shel­ter”. These strate­gies, such as dig­ging into the snow for insu­la­tion, demon­strate the inge­nu­ity required to sur­vive harsh con­di­tions (Out­door Boys).

By apply­ing these prin­ci­ples, we can effec­tive­ly repur­pose an aban­doned ware­house or com­mer­cial facil­i­ty into a secure ‘bug out’ loca­tion. As we con­tin­ue our jour­ney in dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, it’s essen­tial to eval­u­ate and adapt to the resources at hand, ensur­ing our sur­vival in the face of adver­si­ty (Sur­vival Dis­patch).

Utility Easements

In the con­text of bug­ging out, under­stand­ing the intri­ca­cies of util­i­ty ease­ments is cru­cial. These areas are des­ig­nat­ed for the instal­la­tion and main­te­nance of essen­tial ser­vices, and they come with spe­cif­ic reg­u­la­tions that impact how the land can be used:

  • Right-of-Way Reg­u­la­tions: Util­i­ty ease­ments are rights-of-way for com­pa­nies to man­age ser­vices like pow­er lines or sewage sys­tems. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that these strips of land are kept clear of obstruc­tions to pro­vide util­i­ty com­pa­nies access when need­ed. Build­ing or plant­i­ng in these areas is not advis­able as it may lead to demo­li­tion or dam­age by the util­i­ty com­pa­ny for access or main­te­nance pur­pos­es. Home­own­ers must be aware of local reg­u­la­tions regard­ing ease­ments, as they can vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly (Your Guide to Prop­er­ty Ease­ments).
  • Emer­gency Access and Con­sid­er­a­tions:
    • Util­i­ty ease­ments can be strate­gi­cal­ly advan­ta­geous as they may serve as emer­gency access points to your prop­er­ty. This alter­na­tive route can be invalu­able when pri­ma­ry roads are com­pro­mised.
    • Before mak­ing any alter­ations to these areas, it is essen­tial to dial 811, the uni­ver­sal num­ber in the US for pub­lic util­i­ty loca­tion ser­vices, to avoid dam­ag­ing under­ground util­i­ties. For more com­pre­hen­sive detec­tion on pri­vate prop­er­ty, ser­vices like Soft­Dig pro­vide pri­vate util­i­ty locat­ing with advanced equip­ment such as ground-pen­e­trat­ing radar (Under­stand­ing Ease­ments).
  • Plan­ning Your Bug Out Loca­tion:
    • When scout­ing for your bug-out loca­tion, con­sid­er the impli­ca­tions of util­i­ty ease­ments. They can affect prop­er­ty usage, lim­it con­struc­tion plans, and offer both chal­lenges and advan­tages for emer­gency pre­pared­ness.
    • Inves­ti­gate the pres­ence of util­i­ty ease­ments on the prop­er­ty and under­stand the reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern them. This knowl­edge is essen­tial for ensur­ing that your bug out strate­gies are not only effec­tive but also legal and prac­ti­cal (Inside a Prep­per’s Bug Out Prop­er­ty).

By incor­po­rat­ing these con­sid­er­a­tions into our dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness plans, we can ensure that our bug out shel­ters are not only secure but also com­pli­ant with nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions, there­by enhanc­ing our long-term safe­ty and sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

State and Nation­al Parks

In our pur­suit of the per­fect bug-out loca­tion, we can­not over­look the poten­tial of nation­al parks. These trea­sured reserves are not only a tes­ta­ment to the beau­ty and diver­si­ty of our nat­ur­al world but also serve as a crit­i­cal com­po­nent in our nation’s dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness strat­e­gy. Here’s a clos­er look at why these areas are invalu­able:

  • Preser­va­tion and Pro­tec­tion: Nation­al parks like Glac­i­er Nation­al Park in Mon­tana are guardians of our nat­ur­al and cul­tur­al her­itage. They safe­guard every­thing from majes­tic moun­tain land­scapes and del­i­cate ecosys­tems to Native cliff dwellings and expan­sive under­ground caves. In these pro­tect­ed spaces, we find solace and a con­nec­tion to our plan­et’s past and future, remind­ing us of the impor­tance of pre­serv­ing these areas for gen­er­a­tions to come (Sier­ra Club).
  • Eco­nom­ic and Eco­log­i­cal Sig­nif­i­cance:
    • The U.S. Nation­al Park Sys­tem encom­pass­es 425 offi­cial units across the nation, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the econ­o­my by gen­er­at­ing $41.7 bil­lion in 2019 and sup­port­ing over 340,000 jobs. This eco­nom­ic impact is a tes­ta­ment to their role in fos­ter­ing not only envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship but also sus­tain­able eco­nom­ic growth (Green­tum­ble).
    • As we face the daunt­ing chal­lenges of cli­mate change and bio­di­ver­si­ty loss, nation­al parks are at the fore­front of the bat­tle. The ambi­tious 30x30 goal set in the Unit­ed States aims to pre­serve 30% of lands and waters by 2030. Nation­al parks are piv­otal in achiev­ing this tar­get, pro­tect­ing vital ecosys­tems and endan­gered species like Yel­low­stone’s griz­zly bears and the Cal­i­for­nia con­dor in Red­wood Nation­al Park.
  • Com­mu­ni­ty and Health Ben­e­fits:
    • Nation­al parks offer more than just a bug out shel­ter; they pro­vide a space for out­door recre­ation and com­mu­ni­ty infra­struc­ture improve­ment. Stud­ies have shown that access to green spaces can lead to reduced crime rates and improved over­all health and hap­pi­ness. In emer­gen­cies, these parks can become sanc­tu­ar­ies that not only offer refuge but also pro­mote well-being dur­ing times of dis­tress.
    • It’s cru­cial to rec­og­nize the com­plex rela­tion­ship between nation­al parks and Indige­nous peo­ples. Efforts are under­way to pre­serve Indige­nous cul­ture with­in these parks, ensur­ing that the rights and tra­di­tions of these com­mu­ni­ties are respect­ed and inte­grat­ed into the stew­ard­ship of these lands.

As we con­sid­er our options for bug­ging out, we must acknowl­edge the dual role of nation­al parks: as a poten­tial refuge in times of cri­sis and as an essen­tial ele­ment of our nation’s envi­ron­men­tal and cul­tur­al lega­cy. With their blend of eco­log­i­cal diver­si­ty, eco­nom­ic vital­i­ty, and social ben­e­fits, these parks are more than just scenic back­drops; they are active play­ers in our emer­gency pre­pared­ness and dis­as­ter resilience efforts.


In our ongo­ing quest for dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, we’ve iden­ti­fied camp­grounds as poten­tial bug out loca­tions, thanks to their exist­ing infra­struc­ture which can be a boon in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Here’s how to make the most of these facil­i­ties:

  • Infra­struc­ture Advan­tages: Camp­grounds typ­i­cal­ly come equipped with essen­tial ameni­ties that can be life-sav­ing in a cri­sis. We’re talk­ing about water sources, first aid sup­plies, and tem­po­rary shel­ters like cab­ins or RV hookups. These can pro­vide a lev­el of com­fort and secu­ri­ty when bug­ging out, giv­ing us a head start in set­ting up a sus­tain­able liv­ing space (Red­dit dis­cus­sion on bug-out loca­tions).
  • Strate­gic Selec­tion: When we’re con­sid­er­ing a camp­ground for our bug out strat­e­gy, we must eval­u­ate:
    • Dis­tance and Seclu­sion: How far is it from our cur­rent loca­tion? Is it iso­lat­ed enough to avoid large groups of peo­ple?
    • Resources: Is there access to med­ical care and means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Are there suf­fi­cient water and food sup­plies?
    • Shel­ter and Secu­ri­ty: What kind of shel­ter options are avail­able? How can we ensure our safe­ty in this space?
    • Nat­ur­al Threats: Are there any envi­ron­men­tal dan­gers we should be aware of?
    • Own­er­ship and Sup­plies: Who owns the camp­ground, and what sup­plies are already avail­able on-site?
  • Prepa­ra­tion and Defense: Once we’ve select­ed a suit­able camp­ground, our next steps involve:
    • Prepa­ra­tion: We need to research our cho­sen loca­tion thor­ough­ly, hide sup­plies in advance, and cre­ate a sol­id emer­gency plan for get­ting there.
    • Set­up: Upon arrival, we must secure a reli­able water source and gath­er fire­wood while being vig­i­lant for signs of oth­er peo­ple or preda­tors. This is cru­cial for both our imme­di­ate needs and long-term sur­vival (YouTube guide on set­ting up a bug-out camp).
    • Defense: Estab­lish­ing a defen­sive plan is non-nego­tiable. This includes iden­ti­fy­ing shoot­ing posi­tions and cov­er to pro­tect our­selves and our group.

As we inte­grate camp­grounds into our broad­er prep­ping mind­set, we rec­og­nize the impor­tance of per­son­al­ized pre­pared­ness. It’s not just about hav­ing a bug-out loca­tion but being pre­pared for any changes in our nor­mal cir­cum­stances. This means con­sid­er­ing alter­na­tive pow­er sources, secu­ri­ty mea­sures, and waste man­age­ment. A reli­able water source is para­mount, and know­ing how to decon­t­a­m­i­nate it is a major pri­or­i­ty for any bug-out sce­nario. Addi­tion­al­ly, set­ting up a camp kitchen and plan­ning for defense mea­sures are essen­tial con­sid­er­a­tions for longer-term stays at a camp­ground bug-out loca­tion (Sur­vival­ist Prep­per on bug-out loca­tion ideas, Out­door Life on cre­at­ing a bug-out base camp).

Abandoned Mines

In the rugged ter­rains of the west­ern US and the Rocky Moun­tains, aban­doned mines whis­per tales of a bygone era of min­er­al rush­es. These relics of the 1800s, while steeped in his­to­ry, come with a host of con­cerns for those con­sid­er­ing them as a bug-out loca­tion:

  • His­tor­i­cal Haz­ards: The ear­ly min­ers who carved out these under­ground labyrinths were not gov­erned by today’s safe­ty stan­dards. As a result, many of these mines are plagued with dan­gers such as unsta­ble struc­tures, the risk of col­laps­ing tun­nels, and the ever-present threat of falling rocks. It’s a stark reminder of the impor­tance of safe­ty in our bug­ging-out endeav­ors (Nation­al Park Ser­vice).
  • Envi­ron­men­tal and Health Risks:
    • Tox­ic Lega­cies: The earth around these mines may seep heavy met­als, radi­a­tion, and acidic mine drainage, cre­at­ing an envi­ron­men­tal haz­ard that could com­pro­mise our health.
    • Air Qual­i­ty Con­cerns: With­in the mines, the air may be thick with pol­lu­tants, lack­ing oxy­gen, or even con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with stand­ing water, all of which pose seri­ous res­pi­ra­to­ry risks. Such con­di­tions demand not just cau­tion but the right equip­ment for safe breath­ing (Red­dit’s The­For­got­ten­Depths).
  • Prepa­ra­tion and Equip­ment: Before even set­ting foot near an aban­doned mine, we must arm our­selves with knowl­edge and the right tools. Con­sult­ing local author­i­ties and min­ing experts is a step we can­not afford to skip. They can pro­vide invalu­able insights into the mine’s sta­bil­i­ty and safe­ty. When we do decide to explore fur­ther, gas detec­tors and struc­tur­al assess­ment tools are non-nego­tiable for ensur­ing our safe­ty in these unpre­dictable envi­ron­ments (Urban Sur­vival Site).

The haunt­ing allure of aban­doned mines as a bug-out shel­ter must be weighed against the stark real­i­ty of their dan­gers. From 2000 to 2013, hun­dreds have lost their lives in such places, with drown­ing in water-filled pits and falls into mine shafts being the lead­ing caus­es. The absence of clear sig­nage and the fact that many sites are not marked at all only height­en the risk. While fed­er­al efforts are ongo­ing to secure these sites, the sheer num­ber of them—estimated in the hun­dreds of thousands—means that many remain a per­ilous enig­ma (EPA).

Our bug­ging-out plans must be under­pinned by rig­or­ous risk assess­ment and an unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to safe­ty. The deci­sion to use an aban­doned mine as a bug-out loca­tion is one that requires a thor­ough under­stand­ing of the spe­cif­ic site’s risks and poten­tial haz­ards, ensur­ing that our choic­es in dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness are as sound and secure as the shel­ter we seek.


In our con­tin­u­ous efforts towards dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, caves emerge as com­pelling options for those of us con­sid­er­ing effec­tive bug-out shel­ters. Their nat­ur­al for­ma­tions offer pro­tec­tive struc­tures that pro­vide over­head cov­er and poten­tial sta­bil­i­ty, cru­cial in sur­vival sit­u­a­tions. Here’s what we need to know when con­sid­er­ing caves as a viable option:

Essential Considerations for Cave Shelters:

  • Over­head Pro­tec­tion: Caves nat­u­ral­ly pro­vide pro­tec­tion from the ele­ments, includ­ing mov­ing air and sun expo­sure, which are crit­i­cal for pre­vent­ing burns, dehy­dra­tion, or heat strokes. It’s essen­tial to ensure the cave has a stur­dy, water­proof roof and offers enough room for not only our­selves but also our gear.
  • Sleep­ing Arrange­ments: To com­bat the loss of body heat and the risk of insect infes­ta­tions, we should plan to have sleep­ing alter­na­tives off the ground. A well-insu­lat­ed sleep­ing bag is a must-have to ensure a warm and safe night’s rest.
  • Safe­ty Mea­sures: Nev­er explore caves alone; always wear a hard hat or hel­met and car­ry mul­ti­ple sources of light. Avoid nar­row caves and areas with signs of ani­mal activ­i­ty. Being pre­pared for injury pre­ven­tion and man­age­ment is a key aspect of cave safe­ty.

Equipment Checklist for Cave Exploration:

  • Pro­tec­tive Gear: A hard hat and stur­dy footwear are non-nego­tiable for nav­i­gat­ing the rough ter­rain with­in caves.
  • Light­ing: Mul­ti­ple back­up lights are essen­tial to ensure vis­i­bil­i­ty in the com­plete dark­ness of under­ground envi­ron­ments.
  • Appar­el: Cloth­ing for lay­er­ing and gloves will pro­tect against cold and rough sur­faces, while a cave pack will car­ry nec­es­sary sup­plies.
  • Sur­vival Essen­tials: Food, water fil­ters, and first aid kits should be includ­ed in our cave packs to han­dle emer­gen­cies.

Pre-Planning for Using Caves as Bug Out Shelters:

  • Mul­ti­ple Entrances: Caves with mul­ti­ple entrances can pro­vide alter­na­tive escape routes, enhanc­ing our safe­ty.
  • Tent for Warmth: Using a tent with­in the cave can offer addi­tion­al warmth and pro­tec­tion from crit­ters.
  • Envi­ron­men­tal Sur­vey: Before bug­ging out, we should research his­tor­i­cal weath­er data, and geog­ra­phy, and con­duct local sur­veys to ensure the cave is in a high, safe loca­tion.
  • Dis­as­ter Avoid­ance: Know­ing the his­to­ry and geog­ra­phy of poten­tial shel­ters is cru­cial for avoid­ing areas prone to nat­ur­al and man-made dis­as­ters.

When set­ting up a shel­ter with­in a cave, prox­im­i­ty to a water sup­ply, avail­abil­i­ty of trees for fire­wood and build­ing shel­ter, game for hunt­ing or trap­ping, and rocks for build­ing a shel­ter or sur­round­ing a fire are all cru­cial fac­tors to con­sid­er. Addi­tion­al­ly, we must be mind­ful of the sur­round­ing trees, steer­ing clear of those with dead branch­es or fruit trees that attract insects and ani­mals.

For our long-term suc­cess in build­ing a shel­ter, sur­vival gear like solar pan­el back­packs, heavy-duty tarps, para­cord, camp stoves, and lanterns are indis­pens­able. More­over, stock­ing up on food sup­plies, such as canned meats and emer­gency food buck­ets, will ensure we have the nec­es­sary pro­vi­sions to sus­tain our­selves in our cave shel­ter.

By incor­po­rat­ing these strate­gies and ensur­ing we have the essen­tial equip­ment for safe­ty and sur­vival, we can opti­mize caves as bug-out shel­ters, tap­ping into their nat­ur­al defense against the ele­ments and lever­ag­ing their seclu­sion for our dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness plans.

Ghost Towns

In the realm of dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness, ghost towns emerge as intrigu­ing prospects for those of us ded­i­cat­ed to the con­cept of bug­ging out. These desert­ed set­tle­ments, often relics of a once-thriv­ing past, can offer the seclu­sion and shel­ter nec­es­sary in times of tur­moil. How­ev­er, we must be metic­u­lous in our plan­ning to ensure these loca­tions meet our sur­vival needs. Even New Jer­sey where I live, has its share of Ghost Towns that are iso­lat­ed from high-traf­fic areas

Here’s how to approach these his­tor­i­cal havens:

    • His­tor­i­cal Insights and Mod­ern-Day Con­sid­er­a­tions:
      • Ghost towns often have roots in indus­tries such as min­ing or log­ging, reflect­ing a region’s his­tor­i­cal eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties. While these towns have been aban­doned, many still hold rem­nants of their indus­tri­ous past.
      • Some ghost towns have been pre­served as state parks, where the echoes of his­to­ry are pro­tect­ed. These loca­tions can be edu­ca­tion­al, but they may also come with restric­tions that could lim­it our inter­ac­tion or use of the area.
    • Iden­ti­fy­ing and Access­ing Ghost Towns:
      • Dis­cov­er­ing hid­den ghost towns, min­ing camps, and log­ging camps requires a blend of research and explo­ration. We may need to employ four-wheel dri­ve vehi­cles to nav­i­gate the chal­leng­ing ter­rain that often sur­rounds these areas.
      • To find ghost towns near us, tap­ping into the wis­dom of old­er indi­vid­u­als in our social net­work or uti­liz­ing online resources, such as the com­pre­hen­sive Wikipedia list of ghost towns across the Unit­ed States, can be invalu­able.
      • Our local library can be a gold­mine of infor­ma­tion, offer­ing books ded­i­cat­ed to the ghost towns with­in our region, pro­vid­ing us with a sol­id start­ing point for our search.
  • Prepa­ra­tion for Bug­ging Out to a Ghost Town:
    • When we con­sid­er bug­ging out to a ghost town, we must be pre­pared to face sup­ply and resource lim­i­ta­tions. Ensur­ing access to run­ning water is cru­cial, whether it’s from nat­ur­al sources in rur­al areas or through impro­vised sys­tems in an urban set­ting.
    • Opt­ing for a bug-out loca­tion far from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters can shield us from the com­pe­ti­tion for resources and poten­tial con­flict, a key fac­tor in our emer­gency pre­pared­ness.
    • In dire sit­u­a­tions, we might need to ven­ture beyond city lim­its to secure a suit­able retreat. We’ll weigh fac­tors like prox­im­i­ty to water sources, dis­tance from dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas, the via­bil­i­ty of the ground for agri­cul­ture, and the defen­si­bil­i­ty of the loca­tion.

By thor­ough­ly assess­ing these desert­ed towns with an eye for both their his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and prac­ti­cal poten­tial, we can ensure that our cho­sen bug-out shel­ter is not only seclud­ed and rich in char­ac­ter but also viable for our sur­vival strat­e­gy.

The Dangers of Some of the Locations Indicated In this Blog Post

Through care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and analy­sis, our explo­ration of poten­tial bug out loca­tions has pro­vid­ed a diver­si­fied port­fo­lio of refuges, each with unique attrib­ut­es and chal­lenges. Our dis­course spanned from the seclud­ed strong­holds of hunt­ing camps and obscure ghost towns to the repur­pos­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties inher­ent in aban­doned ware­hous­es and the rugged allure of caves. These insights under­line not only the impor­tance of strate­gic selec­tion and pre­pared­ness but also the need for adapt­abil­i­ty and a pro­found under­stand­ing of the envi­ron­men­tal, legal, and safe­ty impli­ca­tions involved in each sce­nario.

In the end, our key take­away is that pre­pared­ness hinges on more than sim­ply select­ing a hide­away; it requires a holis­tic approach that syn­er­gizes resource­ful­ness, legal cog­nizance, and envi­ron­men­tal fore­sight. Whether the choice leads one to the nat­ur­al for­ti­fi­ca­tions of nation­al parks, the infra­struc­ture of camp­grounds, or the soli­tude of rur­al home­steads, the best bug-out loca­tion is that which is metic­u­lous­ly tai­lored to indi­vid­ual needs, offer­ing secu­ri­ty, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and peace of mind in the face of uncer­tain­ty.


In the final analy­sis of our bug­ging-out strat­e­gy, we rec­og­nize the crit­i­cal impor­tance of a bug-out plan and loca­tion (BOL) as our life­line in times of dis­as­ter. The selec­tion and prepa­ra­tion of a BOL is a com­plex process that demands our utmost atten­tion and effort. To ensure our sur­vival and resilience dur­ing emer­gen­cies, we must pri­or­i­tize the fol­low­ing ele­ments:

  • Strate­gic Loca­tion Selec­tion:
      • Prox­im­i­ty: Our BOL must be strate­gi­cal­ly posi­tioned at a safe dis­tance from urban cen­ters to avoid the chaos of a mass exo­dus, yet remain acces­si­ble via pri­ma­ry and back­up routes, ensur­ing a swift and safe relo­ca­tion when nec­es­sary.
      • Iso­la­tion: The ide­al BOL is one that is hid­den from plain sight, shield­ed by nat­ur­al ele­ments, and offers min­i­mal vis­i­bil­i­ty, sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduc­ing the risk of hos­tile encoun­ters and pre­serv­ing our safe­ty (Linked­In’s guide to choos­ing the per­fect BOL).
  • Essen­tial Fea­tures for Sus­tain­abil­i­ty:
      • Water and Food: A con­sis­tent and clean water source is vital; we must con­sid­er prop­er­ties with nat­ur­al water sources or prox­im­i­ty to ponds, fac­tor­ing in local rain­fall and sea­son­al vari­a­tions. For food, the abil­i­ty to grow our own pro­duce and per­haps raise live­stock is a cor­ner­stone of self-suf­fi­cien­cy.
      • Pow­er and Waste: We aim for inde­pen­dence through renew­able ener­gy sources such as hydro-pow­er or solar pan­els. Con­cur­rent­ly, a well-thought-out waste man­age­ment sys­tem, includ­ing com­post­ing and des­ig­nat­ed dis­pos­al areas, is essen­tial for main­tain­ing health and hygiene with­in the BOL (Per­sur­vive’s insights on BOL fea­tures).
  • Pre­pared­ness and Legal Com­pli­ance:
    • Secu­ri­ty and Struc­ture: Our BOL should be a fortress against the ele­ments and poten­tial threats, with a robust struc­ture, perime­ter secu­ri­ty, and emer­gency exits. It must also stand resilient against nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, with con­sid­er­a­tions for the local geog­ra­phy and weath­er pat­terns.
    • Legal­i­ties and Longevi­ty: We must thor­ough­ly under­stand the legal­i­ties such as zon­ing, per­mits, and gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions to ensure our BOL devel­op­ment pro­ceeds with­out hin­drance. Plan­ning for the longest pos­si­ble stay with­in our bud­get is a tes­ta­ment to our com­mit­ment to endur­ing sur­vival (Medi­um’s ulti­mate bug out cab­in guide).

In par­al­lel to our BOL, our readi­ness is fur­ther enhanced by the assem­bly of a bug out bag — a portable kit that stands as our imme­di­ate response to an evac­u­a­tion. This bag is metic­u­lous­ly packed with essen­tials such as non-per­ish­able food, water purifi­ca­tion means, shel­ter pro­vi­sions, first aid sup­plies, and tools for nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It’s the embod­i­ment of our readi­ness to face the ini­tial 72 hours of a dis­as­ter, ensur­ing our sur­vival as we tran­si­tion to our BOL (City Prep­ping’s guide on how to bug out).

By adher­ing to these guide­lines, we for­ti­fy our posi­tion and enhance our chances of sur­vival in the face of adver­si­ty. Our bug­ging-out strat­e­gy is not mere­ly a plan, but a com­pre­hen­sive approach that encom­pass­es every facet of emer­gency pre­pared­ness, from the selec­tion of a secure and sus­tain­able BOL to the detailed pack­ing of a bug-out bag. It is this metic­u­lous and informed plan­ning that will steer us through the storms of uncer­tain­ty and into the calm of a secure future.


  • What does bug­ging out mean?
    • Bug­ging out involves leav­ing your cur­rent loca­tion dur­ing a cri­sis or dis­as­ter to seek a safer place. This proac­tive mea­sure is essen­tial when stay­ing put pos­es greater risks than relo­cat­ing, and it requires care­ful plan­ning and swift action (Red­dit prep­pers dis­cus­sion, Sun­nyS­ports sur­vival blog).
  • Essen­tials for a Bug Out Bag (BOB):
    • A BOB is a portable kit designed to sus­tain you for 72 hours in an emer­gency. It typ­i­cal­ly includes food, water, first aid sup­plies, cloth­ing, and tools nec­es­sary for sur­vival. The pur­pose of the BOB is to pro­vide imme­di­ate resources dur­ing the ini­tial phase of bug­ging out, before reach­ing a more secure and sus­tain­able loca­tion (Mod­ern War­rior Project).
  • Steps to Devel­op a Bug-Out Plan:
    • Iden­ti­fy poten­tial dis­as­ters spe­cif­ic to your region.
    • Select suit­able bug-out sites, includ­ing gov­ern­ment-run shel­ters, rel­a­tives’ homes, or per­son­al shel­ters.
    • Deter­mine bug-out routes that account for var­i­ous sce­nar­ios and obsta­cles.
    • Pre­pare a bug-out vehi­cle (BOV) that match­es the needs of your evac­u­a­tion plan.
    • Pack a bug-out bag (BOB) with all essen­tials tai­lored to your fam­i­ly’s needs and the nature of the antic­i­pat­ed dis­as­ters.
  • Con­sid­er­a­tions for Your Bug-Out Vehi­cle (BOV):
    • Your BOV is like­ly the vehi­cle you already own. Eval­u­ate if it’s suit­able for your evac­u­a­tion needs, con­sid­er­ing fac­tors such as size, fuel effi­cien­cy, and off-road capa­bil­i­ty. In mass evac­u­a­tions, small­er, more maneu­ver­able vehi­cles may be advan­ta­geous due to their abil­i­ty to nav­i­gate through con­gest­ed areas (Home­stead Launch).
  • Lever­ag­ing Reci­procity Arrange­ments:
    • Hav­ing agree­ments with fam­i­ly mem­bers and friends in strate­gi­cal­ly locat­ed areas can pro­vide alter­na­tive bug-out loca­tions when chaos ensues. This net­work of safe havens can be cru­cial when pri­ma­ry plans are com­pro­mised, offer­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty in an unpre­dictable sit­u­a­tion (Off Grid Sur­vival).
  • Mock Bug Out Exer­cis­es:
    • Prac­tic­ing mock bug-out exer­cis­es can help in refin­ing your emer­gency plans, ensur­ing that you and your fam­i­ly are well-pre­pared to exe­cute the plan under stress. These drills can reveal gaps in your prepa­ra­tions and pro­vide valu­able insights for improve­ment.

Remem­ber, bug­ging out is a tem­po­rary solu­tion to seek imme­di­ate safe­ty dur­ing a dis­as­ter. It dif­fers from relo­cat­ing, which is a per­ma­nent move to a new loca­tion. The ulti­mate goal of bug­ging out is to reach a secure loca­tion where you can sus­tain your­self and your fam­i­ly until it is safe to return or until a new per­ma­nent solu­tion is found (Bug Out Sur­vival).


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