You don’t want to be incarcerated, or trapped when the SHTF. That will reduce your survival chances to a joke. At the same time, you don’t want to panic and lose your job, friends, and house if it’s no big deal. Paranoia and lack of vigilance are two extremes that severely impact your survival. How do you know when to go and how to get there safely? I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about evading capture when you Bug-Out.
Numbered List of Steps
If you’re already stressing about how to evade capture and stay safe, you probably feel overwhelmed. I have great news. You don’t need to worry over a million tiny details. Instead, just follow these seven simple steps to get to your Bug Out Location intact.
- Dress right for the environment—both weather and background colors matter. You want to blend in without freezing or frying.
- Pack light so you can carry everything you need on your back while moving fast for a long time. Extras are fine, but make sure you have what you need on your body.
- Mute matters. Anything that jingles, clanks, or otherwise makes a lot of noise is a beacon for trouble. Wrap loud and breakable items in clothing or a sleeping bag.
- Stay off main roads and avoid roadblocks. It helps if you have a CB or police scanner.
- Choose your timing, so you aren’t leaving during rush hour and riots.
- Watch out for people. Don’t stop for anyone and try to avoid being seen.
- Avoid predators and poison. Humans aren’t the only ones who might come looking for you. Know your local dangers at your BOL, including both wildlife and plants.
How to Dress to Evade Capture
To dress for evading capture, we’re going to assume the worst. You’re starting out in the middle of one of the most crowded cities around. That means avoiding dense crowds, but also staying in populated areas, so you don’t stick out.
Presumably, you’re not a ninja or roof-running parkour expert, so this is a practical beginner’s guide. First, you need to ditch any custom, specialty, restrictive, or fancy clothing. Stop putting it on at all. Instead, dress down so you blend in.
Basic Survival Dresscode: City Version
You want to look average, neither hobo nor wealthy. This means that you should not be kitted out in camo, or heels either. If you absolutely must dress up for work, carry a cross-body bag with a quick change.
You want jeans and a t-shirt in dull, but not dirty-looking colors. Men in suits should only swap pants and ditch their coats and ties. Women in skirt suits should avoid tight belts and large accessories. Both genders need sensible running shoes, so bring slip-on tennis shoes if you wear them better at work.
Sunglasses, hoodies, and loose, generic clothing are all good additions. If you lived in Seattle in the 90s, then a plaid shirt and torn jeans would blend in. For NYC, you may need to add a warm undershirt. Be sensible about how the locals look and become one with the norm.
Also, bring a hat to hide your hair or lack thereof. Better still, grab one of those novelty beanies with fake hair attached. The idea is to make yourself disappear. That means fade into the background and look like someone else.
With luck, you’ll never be tracked by serious alphabet agencies who have facial recognition software and camera drones. However, this advice goes for both high and low-tech evasions. Your nose and ears give you away.
It’s easy to shove some cotton in your cheeks to change your jawline and cover your eyes with sunglasses, hoodies, bangs, or ballcaps. Sadly, your nose doesn’t change much. If you know enough to slap a prosthetic on with spirit gum fast, do that. If not, you want to learn the skill when you can.
Ears are trickier, especially if yours are large. Cover them with a hat. You can also use a headband or stocking to hold them down. It’s tough to make your ear profile change, so go for the coverup.
If you have ears that stick out, clean skin, and superglue, you can paste them back in a few seconds. Regrettably, you will not be happy about it later. The layer can pop off oily skin, and superglue is mildly toxic. Save that trick for the high-tech big-brother nightmare dystopia instead of average evasion.
Hiding In Nature
Camo clothing may be trendy, but it’s also highly effective. If you plan to pass through natural surroundings, then doing your best to blend is advisable. A ghillie suit is perfect for short-term hiding. However, they tend to be heavy. Plus, you don’t want to look like Swamp Thing or a dirty bear at a distance when people are panicked.
What to Pack To Evade Capture
We’ve already talked about what to wear and carry for a quick change to evade capture. However, packing for evasion is a more complicated thing. You need self-defense and common sense items.
- EDC- Your Every-Day Carry should include spare phone batteries, a form of self-defense, a map of your local area, and tools for everyday emergencies, like scissors, and a flashlight.
- BOB- A Bug Out Bag needs enough food, clothing, medicine, and tools to last you three to seven days with nothing else. You need to update it for every season, so you have the right gear and equipment.
- BOV- The Bug Out Vehicle needs more than your bags. Cases of water, nonperishable food, and extra medical supplies for starters. You should carry a spare tire, essential vehicle tools, and fluids, like extra gas. This is where you keep a tent and other bulky survival items. However, you should never carry a map that has your home, meeting locations, supply caches, or BOL marked on it.
If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend picking up a premade emergency kit like the Rescue Guard Emergency Survival BOB from Amazon. Ultimately, a bag like this can save your life if you don’t have time to prepare better. Plus, you can keep it as a backup once you have a custom emergency bag. To learn what’s inside, click here.
When to Bug Out
Before you can get going, or worry about evading capture, you need to choose your timing. How can you tell when it’s time to go? Are there specific signs? You bet there are.
When the world starts to get ‘iffy,’ you need to pay close attention to the news. Moreover, if you live near a military base, watching how many troops go in and out can help tip you off. However, there are some simple, surefire signs that you need to hit the road.
Is the news reporting widespread panic in your area? That’s a pretty big sign of the times. However, it’s not the only clue. Take a trip to the grocery store. When the shelves are out of staples like toilet paper and canned meats, you should have your Bug-Out Bag (BOB) packed. Still, you should always have your BOB ready anyhow.
Don’t Hesitate: Get Out of Dodge!
A global pandemic is a superb example of when it’s time to hit the road. Civil wars, riots, and natural disasters are also times to leave. The trick is getting out before roads close, so you can’t go ‘too soon.’
As long as you’ve prepared a Bug-Out Location (BOL), you can always take a little ‘vacation.’ Remember that, if things go back to normal, you can come back. Bugging Out doesn’t have to be permanent. When hurricane season hits the southeast coast, lots of smart preppers head north to their emergency BOL for the season.
Especially if you’re retired, or do remote work, there’s no reason to wait. Toss that bag in the car and move! For those who are traveling by foot, bike, or who need to stay for jobs, it can be a bit more complicated.
Who Should Wait Longer
It’s okay to wait a little longer to bounce if you need supplies or do vital work, like being a first responder. When you commit to your community or have other serious reasons to stay, it’s alright to do your duty.
People who are saving the lives of others should consider this as part of their plans. You will be more likely to have travel leeway anyhow. Plus, you don’t want to pull a high-profile disappearing act if it could increase pursuit.
Additionally, single survivors can consider taking a little longer. Because you have to DIY everything without a team, taking a few extra hours could save your life. Even a couple of days to make sure your Bug-Out-Plan (BOP) is necessary and complete is better in some situations. Also, solo survivors are harder to catch because there’s no one else to give you away or slow you down.
Top Five Signs You Need to Bug-Out NOW
In addition to the indicators I just mentioned, there are some other serious warning signs that you need to go. Keep an eye out for all these circumstances. Moreover, you should be checking the weather and news at least twice a day no matter how calm things seem.
- Long Lines- Are banks and gas stations so packed it’s hard to get inside? These ‘runs’ are a surefire sign that the people around you are seriously concerned about their money and cars. Unfortunately worried people are dangerous people.
- Shortages- More than just toilet paper, keep an eye out for shortages. If you can’t get medical supplies, or there’s a strict limit placed on how many of numerous items you’re allowed to buy, Bug-Out.
- Government Order- Whether they want you to leave, or there are warning signs of martial law impending, it’s terrible news. You don’t want to get caught up in forced evacuations, quarantine zones, or enforced curfews.
- Missing or Failed Leadership- Is your mayor or governor around? The second they disappear during a crisis, you should too. Furthermore, if it’s evident that there’s a problem, and their answers include things like, “Let’s pray,” or “Wait and see,” don’t stick around to see how that turns out.
- Market Collapse- You don’t need to invest in the stock market to keep an eye on the state of the world. However, when the markets tank, it’s a sign of the times. Good examples of this include world wars and the Great Depression.
Time To Travel
I loathe a cliche, but when ‘they say that ‘timing is everything,’ it’s essential to listen. Escaping, especially by road, is dicey. You need to keep an ear out for chatter about roadblocks, and other travel problems.
As soon as travel restrictions begin, your escape gets harder. Whether your BOL is an hour away or halfway around the world, you have to get there for it to matter. Don’t just jump in the car willy-nilly if you can avoid it.
Instead, plan your route and choose your time of day. Never leave during rush hour. Early morning or late night is better. Also, when possible, embark on a Tuesday. Fewer people depart on this day of the week, as evidenced by the cheaper plane, train, and bus ferries.
When to Rest
Even if you can keep moving constantly, you shouldn’t. Evading traffic jams and other significant hazards means knowing when not to travel. Sleep when everyone else is busy. Allow them to swarm like insects while you catch Z’s.
The middle of the day or twice a day during rush hours is perfect for stopping to sleep. Whether you’re driving or using your legs to get to your destination, it doesn’t matter. Anyone enforcing movement restrictions is going to be more active when traffic is at it’s highest.
More police and troops are moving during peak hours in the daytime. Escaping means avoiding those as best you can. Instead of making a high-risk situation worse, plan smarter.
Get your downtime in comfort even on the run. You want to keep insects and critters out while letting airflow in during much of the year. The Sansbug Pop-Up Mosquito-Net Tent I got from Amazon is ideal. It’s lightweight at less than three pounds and folds up in seconds with a little practice. Search Sansbug availability on Amazon here.
Running Bug Out Drills
To evade capture efficiently, you need to be prepared. Although it’s better to go without a plan, than to stay at risk longer than necessary, better preparedness involves doing dry runs. That means start to finish practicing every step.
Skimping on your preparation drills means your plans are much more likely to go south unexpectedly. Everyone knows that things are going to go wrong. Still, running your scenario every month or season helps you to execute the steps faster.
No one wants to be ‘that guy,’ who doesn’t know where their shoes are when it’s time to walk out the door. More importantly, in a real emergency, it could kill you. Self delay is the cardinal sin of emergency preparedness. Whatever you think you need to do, start today.
How to Run a Drill
To execute a plan, you need to have one. Know what you need and where you’re headed. Moreover, you need backup plans and alternate locations. For example, say you have kids and a spouse. Who picks them up, and where are you meeting?
Take that three steps further. First, who else is authorized to pick up the kids? Secondly, you need a second choice meeting place in case of delays. Don’t use this only when someone disappears or is incapacitated.
Set a time limit and leave when it’s up, period. Do not hesitate. Instead, plan to meet up further down the road. Additionally, you need a timer on every backup meeting place. Stay only as long as you agreed, or until it becomes unsafe.
Assign Duties In Order
Hopefully, you have a Bug-Out Team. However, even flying solo means having a particular order to your priorities. With multiple people, assign tasks by capability and priority. The fastest and most reliable need to handle packing extra food, water, and tools.
Everyone should have a seventy-two-hour BOB to carry with enough essential supplies to cover their needs. After that, temporary shelter comes first along with the ability to make fire. Then food and water together.
Next tools, followed by weapons and medical supplies, and be sure to include a sewing kit. Emergency blankets and all-weather gear comes after that—finally clothing, bedding, and other not-quite necessities. Don’t forget your extra socks.
If anyone has an underlying medical condition or special needs, pack those first. Last, pack pet supplies and any extras.
More Than Packing
Ideally, you’ll have all these supplies in bags, backpacks, and boxes, so you only need to load them up. Either way, you should have a checklist. As each item is added, check it off the list. Alternately, have the member of your party who places it into the BOV do so.
You need to check all your supplies every month or season, depending on their nature and whether they have expiration dates. This will allow you to make adjustments and additions as needed. Plus, you can remove any damaged goods, and use items nearing expiration, so they don’t go to waste.
Once you’re packed, go the distance. You need to run a full drill every time. That means driving to your location. You should always check the perimeter before you enter your BOL. Moreover, you need to find multiple routes and exits.
Getting away clean is easier if you don’t get caught. Regrettably, that doesn’t always work. Once someone or something is after you, then you really have trouble. Always remember that your best bet for evading capture is to avoid having anything chase you. So go around troops, police, property owners, homes, and animals.
People are a tough one when it comes to evasion. You need to be faster or smarter than they are. No one can outrun a bullet, but you can serpentine and make the shot difficult. Small vehicles like bicycles and cars are great for evasion in crowded areas.
When running from humans, it helps to know how many and have some clue about their capabilities. Armed troops are very different from the lone tracker with a dog and a gun. Sadly, a large enough group of very angry toddlers can hurt or even kill you.
Try heading upward. Shimmy up a tree or wall if you can do it without being seen or heard. Because people don’t have natural predators in the sky, we tend not to look up. Also, a river or other moving body f water can carry you away quickly.
Whatever you do, you need to get around a corner and out of sight. The longer and harder you run, the more noise you’ll make when you finally rest. That’s extra dangerous because you’re not only loud but tired too.
Cameras and drones are everywhere. The good news is that they aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, the bad news is that taking a dunk in cold mud a’la Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator (1987) won’t defeat heat sensors. Keeping an eye out and giving machines with cameras, a wide berth is your best defense.
Ditching a flying menace is possible. You need overhead cover, dense brush, or a way to go underneath something so it won’t see you. In many natural landscapes, this is relatively easy. However, for desert dwellers, burying yourself in the sand might be the only option.
Fortunately, you can thwart a regular camera. Several companies design CCTV and AI proof outerwear. By playing on the weaknesses in how machines ‘see,’ they can change the perception and get you passed right over.
Before you head out into nature, you need to know the dangers. For example, in the desert, you can pretty much assume anything that grows or moves could kill you very fast. Until you know enough to understand what you can eat, and what’s not deadly poisonous or violent, just don’t touch anything.
In the forest or swamp, you need to know what to look for. Spotting signs of bears, alligators, and other large predators takes some skill. Start learning your animal tracks right away for whatever area you might need to Bug Out through.
Also, carry bear-spray. I recommend Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray for every EDC and survival plan. It will stop a bear or anything else that’s got eyes. The large seven-point-nine-ounce bottle I got from Amazon comes with a belt holster, so you’ll always have it on hand. Get Sabre by clicking here.
No one want’s to think about having to evade capture. Yet even people who have done nothing wrong can end up running from a crazy mob, stalker, or even law enforcement. You can turn and fight, but that’s pretty likely to get you killed.
Instead of risking your life to try and save it, I suggest learning to evade capture instead. Learn to blend in, both in urban environments and by using camo in nature. After all, refusing to practice evasion is like saying you’re okay with being caught by the enemy.
The best evasion is avoidance and leaving before trouble gets truly bad. Though you don’t always get to pick your problems, you still have to know how to solve them.