Should You Bug Out Alone or In a Group?

Who is coming with you when the balloon goes up? When things look grim and the situation has truly reached SHTF levels of severity, it might be time to grab your kit and get the heck out; it’s time to bug out! Bugging out from your home is going to be one of the most dangerous things you will ever do.

Once you’ve made it to safety, you’ll be out of immediate danger, but getting to your bug out location or even someplace relatively safe deep within the woods is pretty risky. And when I say risky, I mean your choices will affect your destiny, including whether or not you live or die.

bugging out alone or in a group featured

The question I want to answer today is: who will you take with you, if anyone? Should you bug out alone or set out with other, hopefully like-minded and similarly prepared people?

If you have a family depending on you that choice will be made for you. But what about close friends, neighbors and others in our circle? Or should you consider trying to get in good with the members of a local collective dedicated to mutual aid and group survival?

Go It Alone or Band Together?

It’s a tricky question to answer. There are pros and cons to each. Let’s examine the two choices real quick before you decide where you’ll cast your lot. Small spoiler warning: there is not a right answer; it all depends.

Pros of Bugging Out Alone

If you decide to go it alone, you will at the very least have a much easier time planning what to do and what you’ll take, along with how you’ll get to where you are going.

Your day, as it is, will be yours and yours alone unless you deign to help others along the way. You will be able to respond faster and more decisively to changes and curveballs thrown your way. You won’t be answerable to anyone but yourself. This elegance and ease in execution will suit some people to a T.

You will as a solo survivor, lone prepper or whatever you want o call yourself, have an advantage in dealing with other individuals as you will present a smaller “threat” to strangers, at least compared to a larger group of (probably armed) travelers.

Of course you may not be treated as a friend, to be sure, but you can at least interact with other individuals on equitable footing. Woe be to the prepper who fails to plan for post-event interactions with other scared and possibly desperate people!

For some other hyper competent people, the fact that you will not be responsible for the lesser, weaker, meeker people who will be sapping your will and your energy and slowing you down will play to your strengths, Darwinian though they may be.

The man apart is always faster to react and adapt than a group can reach consensus. You make your own decisions. Valuable time can be wasted fighting and arguing.

You take your bag, maybe your bug-out vehicle, and just go. You will be nimbler and harder to spot compared to a group, and you’ll effectively eliminate, completely, the risk of a group meltdown, mutiny and betrayal.

Leadership skills can be practiced and developed prior to a crisis, but you can never truly account for what other people will do (or plot) when you are not around.

alone in the wilderness

Cons of Bugging Out Alone

When you’re all alone facing a dangerous and unknown future, in the woods or in the urban jungle, you have your own set of challenges and make no mistake: it isn’t all sightseeing and carefree adventurism bugging out alone.

You will have no one to help you. Literally. Cooking, cleaning and setting up camp will be your sole responsibility and job. You will have no one to keep an eye out for you while you rest or sleep, unless you can keep one eye propped open… Alarms and early warning traps may be fine, but none compare to a thinking, alert human partner.

A group will make easy work of an otherwise arduous task. This is even more true in the long run, not just during the bug out scenario.

A group can bring together far more experience and knowledge than even the most supremely dedicated individual. A party of specialists is most often better than a lone super-generalist. A field manual on austere medicine will rarely equal a doctor’s expert touch.

Speaking of injury and gory mayhem, it is when the lone survivor becomes injured that the doomsday clock will start counting down the minutes until, knock knock, the reaper shows up.

If you get sick, lamed or badly injured you will have no reprieve from otherwise vital life support tasks like maintaining shelter, procuring water and protecting yourself will not wait for you to get better. You’ll either have to endure or roll the dice and take your chances.

The same grade of injury or illness that would be life-threatening in portent to an individual would be a simple thing for a group of allies to handle.

Consider too how a lone person, laden with a nice, juicy backpack just bursting with gear may appear to the wrong kind of person. Any evildoer or posse of desperadoes will be able to make quick work of an individual compared to a group.

The same cannot be said about a band of similar people going forth armed and working together. Meat-eaters always try to pick off the slow, the sick and the isolated…

If though you cannot avoid a confrontation as a lone prepper, do not delude yourself into thinking that you are a match for multiple attackers in a stand up fight, no matter if weapons are involved are not. Training and experience be damned, weight of numbers has a superior quality all its own.

Finally, when the situation looks hopeless and your own doubts are gnawing on you, you won’t have anyone to turn to except yourself and God, if you have faith. Doubt can give way to fear which can give way to panic and even despair. You can afford neither alone in the world. Know thyself before you forsake the help of others.

Pros of Bugging Out in a Group

If planning to or by chance wind up bugging out as part of a group, you will be responsible for certain things depending on the disposition of the group. If you are serving as a leader, you will have more responsibility for detailing what needs to be done as well as managing personal dynamics of group members. It’s not easy! Even in the best of times.

No matter what you are responsible for, you will have a safety net in that other group members will be working on other things while you are working on your task. You will have additional eyes to watch over you while you sleep or are otherwise distracted.

Jobs that require a surplus of manpower will be easily done by a group, and even a pair of doomsday buddies can get far more done than a single person can I the same time. If someone is sick or injured another member can pick up the slack.

And naturally a seasoned, coherent group of survivors presents a much harder target to robbers and other scumbags who might prey on an individual. Security will always be of paramount concern in a survival situation, especially one where rule of law is compromised or missing.

group of hikers

Cons of Bugging Out in a Group

The biggest problems with group travel and survival is the massively inflated rate of consumption that all supplies will undergo. Toilet paper, medicine, food, water, anything you can think of that you need your group members also need, and that means what would be a generous supply for on will be burned up in no time at all when a group needs to make use of it.

The next biggest issue with a group, especially in times of immense stress and uncertainty, is simple group dynamics. People tolerate other people in even the kindest times.

We all put up with a hundred little things that drive us crazy for the sake of social nicety or because our job depends on it. Take those same pressures and multiple them tenfold and heap on a steaming helping of uncertainty, grief and trauma and you’ll have people at each other’s throats in no time.

It is a constant effort to prevent personal beefs from brewing up into full blown fights, and folks will self-select and desert if things become unbearable, probably depriving you of needed supplies and manpower.

This is turn can spark off a full blown sundering of the group, with folks forming smaller bands with kin and close relations to take their chances elsewhere. The initial relationships of your group members will greatly affect the likelihood of such a thing occurring.

You will mostly give up the benefits of stealth and subtleness that a single person or even a duo can enjoy. Most folks are not capable of moving discreetly across all kinds of terrain and doing so in tandem with teammates.

Unless you all trained together in the secret arts of the ninja, served in special forces together or have spent an awful lot of time stalking together when hunting afield, you can forget about moving your group around quietly.

Who Should You Take With You?

The answer is that you should limit yourself to your family, Known friends and allies of likeminded preparation and any members of collective or cooperative you may have joined.

Why? First, your family, because of course. Assuming you are not living in a truly abusive environment don’t sit there and tell me you are going to hightail it out of town and leave your family to rot or ruin.

Second, your known prepper friends and collective wingmen, this is their time to shine. This is why you have both been doing this all these months or years. Having that second “mirror image” person who can supplement and compliment your survival skills is invaluable.

Don’t just let anyone come with you! Be picky and qualify people! You should make every attempt to get your friends, neighbors and coworkers on your level before disaster strikes, but if the day comes and the sky is falling you’ll have to make hard choices about whether or not you’ll risk the wellbeing of the people truly depending on you to accept a potential liability into your party.

Even if someone has specialist skills or something to offer that you lack, be it physical strength, supplies, gear, or whatever don’t be too quick to get on with the glad-handing; plenty of wolves wear sheep woo; and people may have ulterior motives for tagging along at all.

If you’re a woman who’s bugging out all by herself, for example, you might appreciate having someone to keep you company and provide a little more muscle.

Bugging Out With Strangers

Let’s say you’re more or less forced to bug out with people you don’t know very well or at all. Maybe your spouse happened to have a guest co-worker for dinner and now you’re all running for your life together. Maybe there are a huge number of people bugging out in the same general direction as you. How do you handle these people?

First, the less you say the better. Sure, they might see you with your bug out bag, maybe even label you as a prepper or one of “those types.” In times like these, information is power and serves the just and villainous alike so don’t let anything come out of your mouth unless it’s strictly need-to-know. Don’t reveal details about your bug out location, or that you have one, just talk about going somewhere safe.

Don’t make any mention of supplies you have on you or at your BOL. It is no one’s business but their own. Don’t talk about weapons. Don’t talk about gear. If you have some incidental “tag-alongs” or unknowns in close proximity, shut your mouth when it comes to your status!

Unless you really, really need these other people, figure out ways to get yourself and your party or family away from the crowd or group of unknowns.

Of course, if the best way to get to safety is the route everyone else is taking, you should stick with them for a while but at least try to keep a reasonable distance from them. In times of total chaos, you can only trust yourself and your people.

Bottom Line

The bottom line to all of this is that you should definitely take your family, trusted friends and prepper mates, or collective members with you when bugging out, but make sure ahead of time they’re ready and prepared.

Be wary of bugging out with people you don’t know well even if they look like they’re good preppers. They might betray you or do the unexpected or horrible when you least expect it.

Going it alone is possible, and is a good fit for certain personality types, but the risks you incur are enormous. One bad turn or bad decision can spell certain doom and a lingering death. Humans are social creatures; if you can try to bug out with people you trust, you probably should.

bugging out alone or in a group Pinterest image

updated 09/27/2019

About Dan F. Sullivan

Dan F. Sullivan
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don't like taking orders. I'm taking matters into my own hands so I'm not just preparing, I'm going to a friggin' war to provide you the best of the best survival and preparedness content out there.

One comment

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    i liked the article i read and have not given thought to self-defense. Now i need to do some studing up on it.

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