Review: Bug Out -The Complete Plan For Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late

Shared with permission of Leon from

Posted on June 3rd, 2010 by Leon in Recommended Readings
by Leon Pantenburg

Here’s the scenario: Warning sirens are blaring. You have 15 minutes to evacuate. What will you do? By the time the evacuation starts, it’s already too late. Being prepared makes the difference between survival and disaster.

Bug Out by Scott B. Williams helps you make a plan to survive a disaster.

Bug Out: The Complete Plan For Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late

by Scott B. Williams

This is how the stage is set for “Bug Out,” the latest book by Scott B. Williams. The publication presents information to help you create an escape – a “Bug Out” – plan from a disaster area.

Can’t happen to you? Then here are two words to remember: Hurricane Katrina. How much warning did New Orleans have, and how many people still got caught?

Then consider: FEMA states nine out of 10 Americans live in an area that is vulnerable to some natural disaster such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods. And what about those potential disasters nobody can predict, such as pandemics and terrorist attacks?

By the time most people in a disaster area figure out they need to leave, Williams writes , it’s probably already too late.  Plan on traffic jams, broken-down vehicles blocking traffic and clogged highway arteries out of cities.  If they can get on the highway at all, most of the  people will get  as far their car goes before running out of gas.

Where will all these ill-prepared people go? If their only survival training or preparation was watching “Survivorman,” or “Man Vs. Wild” they may have some vague idea of  living off the land. For lack of a plan or better idea, many of them will head for the nearest wilderness area.

Williams has written four other survival-related  books, and maintains  the “Bug Out Survival” blog. In a nutshell, Williams’ concept of bug out survival is to be prepared for a disaster, and be ready to leave your home if events seem to call for an evacuation.

Williams’ latest effort lays out and starts the foundation for Bug Out Survival by helping the reader put together a “Bug Out Bag.” Most preppers or survivalists have some variation of this collection. The premise is that you have a portable, personalized kit with the tools needed to remove yourself from a bad situation.

This bag will be part of a bigger, more comprehensive plan to relocate to a safer, more isolated area, where you will be able to outlast the disaster. Possibly, you will have a retreat already scoped out and ready to occupy.

But coming up with this big plan takes planning, training and motivation, and Williams takes you through that process step-by-step. Start with the right gear, based on your skills, abilities and needs. Don’t buy a commercial kit and leave it unopened in your pack: Williams suggests you make your own kits, with individualized quality materials. Leatherman 830039 New Wave Multitool with Leather Sheath

I have probably too many guns and knives, have my own opinions about the best choices Cold Steel 38CK SRK Survival Knife and consider them part of the survival equation. But I also get tired of many survivalists’ pre-occupation with weapons, webgear, tactical equipment and doo-dads.  According to some of these “experts,” a prime concern is to have enough magazines and ammo for the inevitable firefight with looters.

While Williams does make some practical suggestions about survival firearms, his common sense philosophy is that you should be aware of the situation, and should have left the area ahead of potential confrontations. Practical firearms he recommends are lightweight, easy to carry and conceal, and make sense for your area.

A great portion of the book lists public wilderness areas, and suggests parks, national forests and natural areas where you might get away from the crowds and off the beaten path. While applauding all attempts to be prepared for potential disasters, I am lukewarm, at best, about the concept of heading out into the wilderness to survive a catastrophe.

I’ve hunted, fished, backpacked and canoed in many of the areas Williams mentions, and I would caution: Beware. Just because you go to an isolated area with abundant fish and wildlife, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to live off the land. Just because there is the potential for foraging, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to survive doing it.

I have hunted weeks in some of these recommended areas without getting a shot at a big game animal. And if you’ve never been skunked fishing, then you don’t get out on the water much.

Another caution about these suggested locations: If you read this book and decided to head for a published wilderness area, probably a lot of other people will, too. The traffic jams around some of these areas may be incredible!

Another consideration should be time of year. Where I live in Oregon, the Cascades are under several feet of snow for about half the year. This will require specialized tools, clothing and gear, that wouldn’t be appropriate the rest of the year. Make your Bug Out plan practical.

Williams hits all the right buttons, as far as I’m concerned, with his approach to disaster planning. Like any survival manual or guide, read “Bug Out” with a grain of salt. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to surviving a disaster, and some of Williams’ premises or advice might not work for your situation.

But the book does give solid suggestions for surviving a potential disaster, and reading it may make a difference in your survival planning!

*Author Bio*

ABOUT LEON: Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and a wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker, two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships, and a freelance writer for the Bulletin newspaper in Bend, Or.

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Updated: May 6, 2011 — 6:34 pm

The Author


Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, who doesn’t claim expertise as a survivalist. As a newpaperman for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff’s departments and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense may have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense survival techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters.

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