The Seven Principles of Safe Camping When Bugging Out

The Seven Principles of Safe Camping When Bugging OutThere are few things more frightening than camping for several days in a remote backcountry shelter, only to be disturbed by unwanted guests. If your bugging out plan implies camping in the wild, you need to learn seven principles of safe camping.

Once the brown stuff hits the fan, it will be every man for himself and everyone will struggle to survive. To stay ahead of the masses, you need to bug out once you spot the first signs of danger. Even more, if your bug out plan follows the path of the wilderness, you should be prepared to move undetected. Camping will not be a relaxing activity during a crisis and you should learn what safe camping requires. If you want to keep your family safe and reach your bug out location follow these seven principles.

Seven principles of Safe Camping

  1. Plan ahead and prepare

First of all, you should think about where you are going and what your survival needs might be. When you start to plan your bug out route, consider, ‘what are the most important things for me to do and what resources I might need’. And second, think about how you can minimize waste and what you can do to leave a smaller footprint during your journey. I’m not saying that there will be people tracking you, but if you leave a trail of bread crumbs, eventually the hungry masses will be able to follow your party.

Safe camping requires for you to keep your location and trail camouflaged if you don’t want any followers. Everything you bring along should be used to its full potential without creating too much waste.

  1. Travel and camp off the beaten path

When traveling through the backcountry stay off the tracks as often as possible in order to avoid leaving traces. Moving without leaving an easily recognizable spoor requires paying attention to the environment and a little bit of experience.

Your main concern is to avoid leaving a ground spoor. As the name implies, the ground spoor can be defined by any sign found on the ground. Footprints, burn marks, vehicle tracks, blood stains, overturned ground or rocks, all these are examples that would indicate the presence of a ground spoor.

Related reading: Bugging out without leaving a trail

  1. Dispose of waste properly

One of the safe camping principles regards waste management. Unfortunately this is overlooked by many of those exploring the great outdoors. While the best practice would be to carry all your rubbish with you, this might not always be a good idea.

Everything you leave behind will eventually tell a story about you and your group. Litter can give away their position and will make it easier for trackers to get on their trail. Sunlight and moisture will affect litter and can become a great clue for experienced trackers. For example certain plastic wraps will be discolored in two or 3 days while metal cans will develop rust spots in less than 24 hours in certain geographic areas.

To avoid carrying dangling cans or any other trash that gives away your position through smell or noise, it’s better to bury your litter. Once you bury your trash, make sure you camouflage the spot using the materials around you.

  1. Diminish the effects of fire

Safe camping also requires building the right type of fire at your campsite. There are many different types of fire to choose from and it all depends on what you need the fire for. For some, warmth is the most urgent requirement. Depending on the fire type, you can also use it for: cooking, drying wet clothing, signaling or even disposing of waste.

Use pieces of wood that are wrist-sized or smaller. Larger pieces will take longer to burn and you may end up leaving a partially scorched log when you move on.  Keep the fire small, scatter ashes and make absolutely sure you don’t leave any evidence behind.

Survival Lessons From The Past

To conceal your presence, I recommend building a snake hole fire or a Dakota hole one. Both can serve multiple needs in the wild and will make almost no light at night. Read this article to know more about the different types of fire you can make for safe camping.

  1. Respect the wildlife

Understanding which wildlife populates the area you live in and learning about its behavior becomes valuable knowledge during a crisis. When traveling through the wilderness, most animals will flee areas where man goes. You can note their direction to discover the trail of the party you are tracking.

Since most animals are nocturnal, the animal tracks superimposed on party’s footprints indicate that spoor was made during or before nightfall. Spoor over animal tracks indicated that spoor was made after sunrise.

Even more, you should know how to protect your campsite and food supplies if dangerous predators are common in your area. Safe camping requires to fully remove all food from shelters and camping sites to avoid unwanted dinner guests.

Related reading: Tracking Techniques learned from our ancestors

  1. Set a perimeter

Once you set up camp your next move should be to set some trip wire alarms. You can improvise some by using soda cans with stones in them or personal alarm keychains. The ones that if you pull the pin out of them they will sound off at an amazing 130 decibels! They are small and concealable and have a little chain ring on the pin. Just pull the chain and pin and all hell breaks loose. If an intruder will walk into your trip wire alarms it will alert the entire campsite.

There is no safe camping without deploying safe-defense mechanisms and you should plan to avoid unwanted encounters with both animals and humans.

How you protect your family is all up to you and the training you have. I will not discuss about self-defense means as it’s not the point of this article. I honestly think that any trespasser deterrents could work if you know what you are doing.

  1. Respect your timeline

Every bug out plan needs to have a bug out timeline. You can’t bug out successfully without having a plan and a timeline, and without testing them. No matter what happens, you need to respect that timeline if you want to reach safety. When you set up camp and things go along your way, you may have the tendency to overstay in a certain spot. The smart thing would be to avoid doing so if you don’t want to decrease your chances of reaching your safe location.

There are many unknowns in the wild without having to take into account the after-effects of the crisis that triggered your bug out plan. The weather can change suddenly and slow you down or the disaster may block your path. A wildfire can change its direction in a matter of hours and you may be cut out from your main routes.

The timeline of your bug out plan may be affected by various factors such as weather, age and number of party members, gear weight and most of all, the lack of experience. Remember that you need to set camp only to rest at night and you should move as soon as possible.

A final word

If your preparedness plan includes a long distance bug out, these are certain considerations you need to pay attention to for safe camping. They are mandatory if you want to reach your safe haven. You will not be able to travel without resting stops and you don’t have to push yourself over the limit. Going out unprepared is just a gamble and you’re betting with your own safety.

Other Useful Resources:

How to build a water generator – Converting air to water

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

The most comprehensive knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

EMP survival and preparedness guide

How to make your home invisible to looters during SHTF



3 thoughts on “The Seven Principles of Safe Camping When Bugging Out”

    • Hey Linda,

      You can find various types on Ebay and Amazon. Just search for “key chain alarm 130 db” and pick the ones you like.


  1. A generally good article, but I would take exception to a couple of your points. Regarding camping off the beaten path, one of your recommendations in ‘related reading’ is to brush out the evidence of your trail. Having spent years tracking illegal aliens and drug smugglers in the border area, I would submit that it is extremely difficult to effectively mask your movement from a seasoned tracker. This applies to open desert, hard pack terrain, and even rocky areas. I have watched hidden video of smugglers that had a “Tail End Charlie” assigned with the task of obliterating the footprints of the group. Their efforts generally replace footprints with brush marks that still reveal a path of forward progress. In the Southwest, many alien groups try to mask their tracks by using “carpet shoes” or burlap to hide the imprint of their tracks. While this may make it difficult to determine the actual size of the group, it does little to make the path invisible to anyone other than a novice tracker.

    Regarding your discussion about having a perimeter for security, the most important issue is to set camp in a location where you have optimal visibility. That means having the ability (and elevation) to observe approaching threats. If you set camp in a thicket on low ground, your line of sight is extremely limited. It means that you aren’t going to see headlights, flashlights or thermal radiation at any useful defensive distance. Certainly, you want your camp site to be as obscured as possible; but you must also set a camp where you can observe the trail behind and ahead. The greater that distance, the better. Elevation is always a key factor. If I had to pick a number for minimum elevation above the surrounding area, I would designate 300 feet. That gives you a potential surveillance distance of several miles.


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