Bug Out Clothes: What To Wear When You Hit The Road

Bug out clothes play an important role in bugging out. Many people that are preparing for the worst will put a lot of time and energy into bug out bags, plans, and locations. Those same people may not stop to think about the clothes on their backs. Unless you’re bringing your home with you, you’ll need to bring clothes.

Survival supplies are the most important thing. But, you might have trouble getting far into your survival plan with stilettos or a suit and tie. Let’s break down what you should be looking for. Both in the clothes you wear out the door when you’re bugging out and the extra clothes you’ll want to pack in your bag.

Man in bug out clothes in the woods.

Bug Out Clothes: The Base Layer

First, the base layer. No clothing has more contact with sensitive parts of your body than your socks and underwear. These are usually under other layers of clothing. Because of this, they have a tendency to overheat or get uncomfortable first out of anything. When they do get uncomfortable, It’s going to slow you down or even take you out of commission for your exit plan.

For socks, you’re going to want to look for merino wool. They’re more expensive than the cheap cotton socks at your local dollar store but they will pay off. Merino wool is tough and most importantly it’s comfortable. This reduces your chances of getting blisters, even when wet. For underwear it’s not a specific material but a set of criteria you should be looking for. You want underwear that won’t bunch up, dries quickly, and is breathable. If you find a pair that satisfies these requirements, stick with it!

Bug Out Clothes: Shirts and Pants

If you haven’t picked it up yet, the overall theme of this article is that you want your bug out clothes to be functional. Shirts and pants that are breathable and dry fast will always be a good idea. They let you recover from getting wet faster and stay more comfortable.

Getting wet in a survival situation can be life-threatening if it’s cold out. For this reason it’s also a good idea to dress in layers. It gives you more flexibility with your temperature level. And it could give you additional options if only some layers are wet and others are still dry.

Bug Out Clothes: Colors and Styles

When looking for colors you want to blend in. Some preppers and survivalists recommend camouflage, but we don’t. If you and your family are all decked out in camouflage you’re going to look out of place in an urban environment. Worse than that, you’re going to look prepared. If people in desperate situations know that you’re prepared with supplies, things can gut ugly.

When you’re picking the style and colors of your survival clothes, it’s best to keep this in mind. Choose functionality over form, but don’t stand out in a crowd. There’s another interesting fact that can be important if you’re headed into the woods. Mosquitoes like the color blue. This refers to lighter blues and less navies but this is something worth taking into account. Mosquito bites can sometimes be serious, but they’re always annoying.

Bug Out Clothes: Shoes or Boots?

Shoes are also going to be one of the most important choices you make when it comes to your bug out clothing. If your plan involves walking you’re going to need something sturdy to walk on. We recommend a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots. The shoes will be lighter and less bulky. This may give you an edge on your total supply weight and on the wear on your feet.

The boots would also be a good option. They provide a little extra protection and support to your ankles. This is important to make rolling them less likely. If you don’t have these, go for something like sneakers or tennis shoes over dressier, fancier shoes. Once again, function over form.

Bonus Items!

Some bonus articles of clothing you may want to consider are ponchos or personal mosquito nets. The ponchos are really a good idea. Sturdy ones are still light, but disposable ones weigh almost nothing and can still be reused. In a survival scenario, a couple square yards of plastic can serve a lot of purposes. Most emergency kits should contain at least a disposable poncho.

They also make mosquito nets that you can hang from your hat. These are also a light accessory but they may be overkill depending on where you’re bugging out to or from. However, if you’re in a heavily mosquito dense area, or the mosquitoes are known for their disease, these nets may well be worth packing.

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The Bug Out Van: Take Your Home With You

Bug out vans are an exciting new twist on the growing van life movement. Van living and other forms of mobile living have been around a long time, but they’ve recently gotten a boost. You may have seen YouTube videos or articles about people building out stealth living vans. Some even convert old school buses! What does this trend have to do with bugging out or prepping?

Bug out van under a full moon.

Quite a bit actually. The biggest reason we build bug out bags is to buy us time to get away from possible dangers. Whether the dangers are forming where we are right now or they’re already on us. The bag is great but if you can’t make it away then it may not really cut it. Then what happens when you get to your bug out location? Do you have a structure there already or are you planning on doing some bushcraft? Investing in a bug out van could answer these questions. If you don’t want to limit your bug out to a bag, why not take a whole home?

The Growing Van Life

Let’s start off by talking about van living. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s worth diving into. It’s a fascinating movement of people that are avoiding the rent or house status quo. They’re doing this by building fully functional living spaces in vans or trucks. Some of these vans even have toilets and showers! For most van-lifers, this isn’t an attempt at prepping for bugging out. This is an inexpensive and free way to live your life. However, if the SHTF, these van-lifers wouldn’t have to bug out of their homes, they can bug out in their homes! 

If you’re the owner of a van that’s built out for living in, you’re set.  When the going gets rough, you can drive your home straight out of the area. If you’ve got a bug out property or a location you’ve scoped out, you can park your house right there and boom! Instant structure. If you’re living in traditional housing, a bug out van might be an investment into being prepared. If you’re considering this, let’s talk about some of the pro’s and con’s of living in a van. And whether they’d apply in a catastrophic situation.

The Pro’s and Con’s of a Bug Out Van

One of the biggest drawbacks to living in a van is privacy. It’s hard (and sometimes illegal) to get your windows fully tinted. And needing to park your home to live means that you’re always going to be in public places. However, if this van is your bug out vehicle, this privacy shouldn’t be a big concern. An essential part of a good bug out location is isolation. If people are finding your bug out spot then you’ve got bigger problems. Somebody seeing you getting dressed through a tinted window will be a small concern. 

Most of the drawbacks stem from a lack of a permanent location. Cooking becomes difficult, you can’t really expand your space, you may not have much storage room. If your van is for bugging out then you really shouldn’t be on the road long. It should be a vehicle to get you to a permanent location, and then you can build up any sort of camp you want you’ve got it set. 

Bug Out Van Mechanical Considerations

There are of course mechanical considerations. You’ll need to be sure that your van is waterproof and able to retain heat or air out if it gets hot. For any of these considerations, a van is going to be a more comfortable bet than a straight up bushcraft lean-to. However if you’re looking at the decision to build a small home or park a van on your bug out property, these are great options. Vans can mean that you can drive the home right to the property and use it in the meantime.

When you’re looking at whether or not to invest in a bug out van, there are a lot of things to consider. It can be a viable option if you’re looking for a permanent shelter that you can stock and move if you need to. Plus, when times are good you can go camping or even live in it! 

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Bug Out Bag Size: How Big To Go?

Bug Out Bag size, it’s a common question. How big or small should your bag be? The answer is “It Depends” which is never the one you’re looking for but it let’s us give you a lot more information.

Bug Out Bags come in all shapes and sizes. There’s really no wrong answer for how big it should. This is true as long as you have an answer to another question: Where are you bugging out to?

Bug out bags are planned with a purpose. They’re designed to get you from Point A to Point B. This is because, for most people, you can’t fit everything you need to survive forever in one bag.

Backpacker with a large bug out bag size.

Get Home Bug Out Bag Size

Let’s start with a small form of bug out bag, the Get Home Bag. You can probably guess what it’s designed for. This type of bag should contain everything that you need to get from wherever you are back home. (Bags like this are usually stored in your car or place of business.) This is important so you can get your family and your supplies and either hunker down or bug further out.

These bags aren’t normally designed for extended use. They carry about 24 hours of emergency supplies and quick rations. They’re designed to keep you going as you close a short gap. When you’re considering size for this bag, it can be tempting to go too big. With knowledge of what tools you would need to survive for longer it may feel silly not to throw them in. That’s why the purpose is so important when you’re sizing out the bag.

A Get Home Bag should be lightweight and easy to throw on and move with. Ideally, you can drive home if the worst happens. This is the bag you grab if you have to leave your car behind and move on foot. You’ll want a relatively small and light backpack.

Bug Out Bag Size

Your standard bug out bag normally shoots to triple this timeframe. The ideal goal is that your bug out bag has enough supplies to last you three days, but there’s a balance you have to reach. Studies on hikers have shown that if your bag is more than 20% of your body weight, you become much more likely to hurt yourself. That’s just by carrying it! Others suggest that ideally you should shoot for 10%. This level keeps you healthy but also allows you to run full speed if you need to. Plus you should be able to fit everything you need.

This would mean that if you’re a 200 lb person, you should shoot for 20 lbs of weight. You could carry up to 40 lbs if you’re in peak physical condition. But even then, this weight will wear you out faster. Not only that, but it still carries a higher risk of injury like blisters or even falls. For this purpose the size of your bag is less important than the weight. Prioritize lighter bags over even more durable bags. This bug out bag is only designed to last you three days anyway. 

With this bag you should be getting you and your loved ones to a more permanent location. Whether that’s with friends or family far away; a bug out property that you’ve planned for; or even just an area of nature that you can build shelter and find permanent food and water sources at.


The final size “bag” you may want to weigh out is sometimes called an INCH Bag (or tub). The INCH stands for ‘I’m Never Coming Home” and so any bag with that purpose in mind could be considered an INCH bag. I recommend only having a bag larger than the limits described above if you already have another bug out bag. Anything larger can weigh you down or could be unnecessary. 

You should be prepared to abandon it and run with your bug out bag if you have to. Anything bigger than the above bags should be taken in a car. For this reason, you can go with larger duffles or even plastic tubs. Just keep in mind that extra weight will take more gas in your car and increase the likelihood of a flat if it’s too severe. Make absolutely sure you’ve got your bug out bag set before filling tubs or duffles with luxuries that aren’t necessary to keep you alive.

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Bug Out Now! What Is Bugging Out?

Bugging out as a term is something that’s risen in popularity over the last couple decades. You may have heard of bug out bags, bugging out prep, or bug out locations. This popularity stems from growing worry that something could come around the corner. Something that could destabilize life as we know it.

Man mid bug out, stopping to look at forest.

Bugging Out In A Nutshell

“Bugging Out” is when you take your close loved ones and some survival supplies. Then you leave the place where you normally live and do business. There are different degrees of bugging out.

A Common Bug Out Example

For instance, when you live in a coastal area with hurricane risks you have to evacuate. This is asked by the authorities if a dangerous storm is moving in. You’d likely pack up your loved ones and pets and pile into a car with some basic supplies. For something at this level, you can just head to go stay with family or friends or even at a hotel. Even though you’re planning on coming home after it blows over, this is still bugging out.

You’ve probably heard the term “Bug Out Bag” if you’ve heard about bugging out. These can go from simple to elaborate. For this hurricane threat, you may consider having a bag (or tub) with some water, some protein bars, a first aid kit, and maybe a few other pieces of gear. This would be planning for the unlikely event that something unexpected happens while you’re evacuating.

Complex Bugging Out

Bugging out can get a lot more involved than a simple evacuation. Some bug out plans don’t involve ever coming home again. This of course would be very unnecessary in the case of a hurricane. Of course, a more catastrophic disaster could make this necessary. Even some sort of threat from a foreign military presence could call for this. In the case of these more serious events your bug out bag is going to be much larger. It’s going to have a lot more supplies. And it may even be geared to just getting you out of your normal area and to a secondary location. This secondary location (or bug out location) is somewhere that you’ve planned to evacuate to before hand.

In larger situations like this you may hear the term “INCH Bag” or other “INCH” related phrases. This stands for “I’m Never Coming Home”, and is as serious as it sounds. The only situations you would consider this in are ones where you believe that your home won’t even be there anymore. Possibly, situations where the area around your home will become too dangerous to ever return.

A Historical Bug Out Example

A historical example of an INCH situation might be the Chernobyl Disaster. The residents of Pripyat hardly had time to gather anything before being hurried out of the city. They were never able to ever return to their homes due to the radiation. INCH situations are a severity of bugging out. They’re the highest one you could encounter.

For situations like the one we mentioned about with hurricanes, it’s a good idea to have at least a basic bug out plan. Some people consider this and all “prepping” to be doomsday nonsense. That couldn’t be more wrong. There are plenty of situations that you should be prepared for. Situations that wouldn’t be nearly interesting enough for a movie plot.

You don’t need to let the fear of something bad happening get you down, though! In fact, knowing that you’re prepared if something should happen can bring a lot of peace of mind. In the event of a real disaster you won’t have much time to prepare. By preparing ahead of time you can ensure that you’ll be ready. As they say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst!

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