Bugging Out With Kids

July 2, 2015 by | Be the first to comment »

Bugging out is tough, both physically and mentally. Aside from dealing with the circumstances you’re fleeing, you also have to contend with the fact that you’re leaving your home behind—possibly forever.

Add children to the mix and it becomes a significantly larger challenge.

Adults can generally deal with shitty circumstances in a logical manner. Sure, some will temporarily breakdown, many will be less effective, and most will bitch and moan the whole time, but they do what needs to be done.

Anyone who has ever had to deal with an inconsolable child in the midst of a meltdown over, well, nothing, knows that kids do not act rationally.

Add a the fear of an event like a natural disaster or civil unrest, the uncertainty of an unfamiliar environment, and the physical challenges of the journey to the already sensitive emotions of children, and things can get ugly pretty damn quickly.

No matter what you do, it’s impossible to make it easy, but there are some steps you can take to make it easier and less stressful, both for you and for your kids.


Kids often have a problem with the unfamiliar, so take the time to acclimatize them to the types of environments they’ll experience while bugging out. Take them camping and hiking so they become comfortable in the wilderness. Encourage them to participate in sports to build their endurance and fitness.

You should also invest the time to teach them survival techniques. Especially navigation, water purification, and signaling.

Bug out bag

There is a pretty good chance that you’ll end up carrying most of their gear, food, and water, so make sure you have a way to do that. Either invest in a larger bug out bag, or devise a way to attach their packs to yours. (Zip ties, carabiners, and paracord are all good options.)

Children around 5 years old should be able to carry at least a day’s worth of food and water, and a change of clothes. Children around 12 years old should be able to carry all of their food, water, and clothes, and from about 16 on, they should be able to carry a complete bug out bag. A few hiking trips each year will get them comfortable with this concept.


You’ll need your standard bug out bag, but you’ll need some additional equipment when bugging out with kids.

Baby Carrier

If you have small children, a baby carrier is a necessity. Anyone who has ever lugged an infant around a theme park knows how heavy they quickly seem. Add the physical demands of traversing trails or other uneven terrain and this can become one of the most important pieces of equipment you bring.

Baby Carrier

Running Stroller

Another great piece of equipment is a running stroller because it can pull double-duty, lugging tired kids as well as extra gear. In a pinch, it could probably be used to carry injured adults for short distances, but I would only recommend that as an absolute last resort in a life or death emergency, because if it breaks, you’ll have to cut gear to what you can carry on your body.

Unless you’re an avid runner and plan on getting a lot of use out of yours, you should try to buy a used running stroller because they are on the expensive side. Try craigslist, baby swap groups on Facebook, or used sporting goods stores like Play It Again Sports.

Running Stroller


Yes, I know, you can tough it out, but you can’t expect your kids to. All it takes is an infected bug bite, hypothermia, or illness to turn your bundle of joy into a sick, quivering little mess. How would you feel if your decisions put them in that state, and you were miles (days) from help?

Save them the pain and yourself the guilt. Toss a small tent into your bug out bag so your kids have a warm, dry, and bug-free place to sleep.


I have no problem trudging through alligator-infested swamps or up/down steep mountains myself, but my route with children would be significantly different.

You’ll probably need to take safer routes, avoiding terrain challenges. This also means a longer trip so you’ll need more water, food, and supplies.

Aim for routes across even terrain, avoiding areas of known conflict, and if possible, passing by areas where you might find water and food.


It’s unlikely that your 11-year-old has any experience traveling through the woods in the rain at night, so subjecting them to those conditions is stupid. Even if they do have the experience, it’s stupid to subject them to those conditions during an emergency.

If you must travel at night, use both flashlights and headlamps if possible. If circumstances prevent that, such as trying to avoid being attacked during civil unrest, then make sure each member is wearing a chemlight on their front and back to help avoid being separated.

Try to avoid traveling in the rain because it increases the risk of hypothermia, illness, and injuries. If you are forced to travel in the rain, wear suitable rain gear to prevent hypothermia and illness, and reduce speed to prevent injuries from falling.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

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