Bug Out Boats for Efficient Load-outs, or Too Dangerous?

In a SHTF situation, your best bet keep safe is to head for the hills.

However, your efforts to survive can be slowed down by traffic jams and blockades.

Maybe we need to consider another, time tested method of travel: the Bug Out Boat.

Quick Navigation

Bug Out Boat
Bug-out Boat Advantages
What to Consider When Buying a Bug-out Boat?
Boat Selection
The Plan
Ensuring your Safety while Navigating the Water

Bug Out Boat

I’m not talking about jumping in a boat and heading out to sea when the SHTF; or am I?

I’m talking about avoiding trouble.

Bridges are natural choke points. They are the perfect place for government troops to run checkpoints and roadblocks, but even more serious, a great spot for bad guys, to ambush families that are heading out of dodge!

bridge traffic

Even in the best scenario, that bridge, that you need to cross, might be choked with broken down and abandoned vehicles.

You have to be ready.

Most of us have some major rivers or water in our path of escape. Heck, I live on a peninsula, with a mile-wide river on one side. There are only 2 or 3 bridges for me to get to the freedom of Virginia, without going through a major city.

I’ve collaborated with experts in various fields, on this situation since I started my research into prepping.

How can I avoid those choke points?

They all have the same answer.

Use a bug out boat!

Bug-out Boat Advantages

I discovered several advantages from bugging out by boat. One is that boats travel faster than when you do so on foot.

The fact that a boat does not depend on gas and oil means that you can bring them further away. It can travel large distances.

Probably the best advantage of having a bug-out boat is that it allows you to make use of nature’s expressway (ex. rivers, lakes and coastlines). Another great advantage is that it can carry heavy loads – heavier than what you can carry alone.

two people in boat

Some items you can safely store in your bug-out boat without causing you to worry about the load include:

  • Heavy cup, plastic wrap, and large pot designed to distill water
  • Some fishing kits
  • Spare clothes and blankets for warmth
  • Some large tarps
  • Sea-sickness medication
  • Life jackets
  • Flare guns, in case you need to ask for help
  • GPS and maps
  • Satellite phone ideal for emergencies

What to Consider When Buying a Bug-out Boat?

However, before investing in a bug-out boat, you have to remember that the sea or any body of water that churns is not one that you should treat and trifle lightly.

It also has its own set of obstacles and challenges.

This is why you have to take into account some vital factors, including specialized gear, a complete understanding of some valuable safety precautions once you are at sea, and some navigational skills you have to hone.

bugout boat

If it is your first time to buy a boat then you have to take into account your specific needs and limitations. For instance, if you have limited space, then going for an inflatable raft might be a good idea. This choice carries several benefits – one of which is that it is easy to store even in apartments with limited spaces.

You can store it next to your survival gear and bug-out bag, promoting ease in grabbing it once disaster strikes. An inflatable raft is also lightweight. With that, you will have no problems getting it to the shore even if you do not have a car and you do not live near the water.

You should also choose a bug-out boat based on your geographical destination and location.

This means that you have to consider where you live or the specific body of water that is nearest your location. It should be the body of water where you can safely and quickly reach. It is also advisable to take into account your destination as well as if you have plans of moving from one location to another.

Boat Selection

docked boat

You may choose whatever is convenient, and accessible for you, a canoe, kayak, boat or inflatable raft. If you watch trade and barter sites (Craigslist) or eBay, you will eventually find a canoe or a kayak.

The canoe and the kayak have been used for travel far back into history. If it’s good enough for our Native Americans to travel the North American waterways, then it’s good enough for me.

The single downfall of a canoe or kayak would be deciding what do you do with it when you need to move on. Do you desert it, or drag it with you?

While not as durable, an inflatable boat would be a solid choice. You could toss it in the car pretty easily, for automotive bug out. You could even have a spare inflatable boat, and still, take up almost no room.

I started saving my pennies and finally was able to afford the Intex Excursion 5, inflatable boat. It’s large enough for my family and our backpacks.


Excursion 5 is a large inflatable boat.
Excursion 5 is a large inflatable boat

Before you even attempt to use a boat, in a crisis, you really need to familiarize your family with the boat itself.

The last thing you want in an emergency is to toss panicked or stressed-out people into a boat, that they’ve never seen in their life!

Make boating a relaxing experience.

Take your family out in the boat for some recreation time. Row around the lake, enjoy the ambiance and maybe do some fishing. This should happen often enough, that they become used to the boat and understand boat safety.

They’ll enjoy this experience, and you’ll get bonus points, for being a great family member! They don’t have to know, that you are stealthily preparing them for bugging out by boat.

The Plan

If the SHTF here’s my plan.

I will grab the items on this list:

  • bug out bags
  • life jackets
  • boat (in my case my Intex Excursion 5 or canoe)
  • oars (and optional trolling motor, if applicable)
  • map of the region
  • my wife and kids (note to self: do not forget your family!)

After I get all this gear (and people) stowed, we can head out.

bug out boat with supplies

Once we make it to the river, we decide whether to head across it (at an angle of course) or drift quietly downstream. Drifting downstream, would take us away from the metropolitan area, and deeper into a safer, more rural area.

While the roads and bridges are jammed with traffic, cars and desperate people, we’ll be heading away from the city.

I’m not saying there won’t be other people, getting out of dodge, in their boats, on that same river, but I’m hoping that there will be less of them and that they’ll be less desperate (dangerous).

If your path is blocked at a waterway, try to avoid those choke points, bridges.  Cross that river, bay or stream in your bug out boat.

Ensuring your Safety while Navigating the Water

Make sure that you have a bug-out bag with all the items you need while navigating the boat. Check out the items inside your bug-out bag first.

man on a bug out boat

As much as possible, it should have most of the essentials for coastal evaluation and making landfall, including sleeping bag, shelter, and a first-aid kit.

Consider the specific items in the bug-out bag that should stay dry to maintain their functionality. Find out which among these items are also salvageable in case the boat flips accidentally. In such a case, your clothes, first-aid kits, and sleeping bags are among the things that should remain dry for them to function during survival situations.

Apart from gearing out, you also have to learn a few important things about boating so you won’t end up navigating the open water aimlessly that might only end up in tragedy. Prepare a safe zone and determine how to reach it under various scenarios and together with a few members of your group.

Make sure that you have the right maps, too. Local waterway maps should be stored close to your bug-out gears and bag.

Do not forget to bring maps of the whole section of the river or coastline necessary to navigate to your safety. You have to determine your endpoint, too. For instance, if you have plans of traveling to a port, find out the ideal spot for docking your boat in advance.

Safety first! Everyone in the boat must wear life jackets at all times!

people in yellow boat

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