How to Find the Best Bug Out Location (BOL)

Preppers are often labeled as paranoid, weird, and downright crazy because a prepper’s lifestyle is far from conventional. Those labels would have bothered me back in middle school, but now as a grown woman the thought of leaving home and being fully prepared to start over in a new, safe location sounds super exciting. Even when you’re not running for your life or escaping danger, starting over can be complicated and takes a fair amount of prep work. Let’s talk about how to find the best bug out location.

You should never feel ashamed of being prepared

How to find the best bug out location (BOL)
How to find the best bug out location

Disasters frequently happen with no warning and especially in our ever-changing, turbulent world, preparedness is never something to be ashamed of. Having a supply of water, food, toiletries, fuel, and other necessities is a really great start, but serious preppers will want to have at least two good Bug Out Locations (BOL) to head to when “SHTF.”

You should have more than one BOL because different disasters will have different safety requirements. For example, high ground is the perfect location for flood-prone areas, but being underground is best for avoiding the radiation of a nuclear war. Also, high ground is not the best for wildfire-prone locations.

BOL Essential Requirements

How to find the best bug out location (BOL)

1- The Physical Location

  • With in the range of a short hike or one tank of gas.
  • Multiple access points available.
  • Quick escape routes available.

The first step is choosing your location. It is important to look at simple logistics from the beginning. A good bugout location will be within hiking distance or well within one tank of gas. The farther away your retreat is from home, the less time you will be spending there. You might set the intention to make the 5 hour drive and 2 mile hike to work on setting up your bug out location at least once a week. And for the first few weekends, you might actually do it, but over time, you may get busy and run out of the motivation to make the trek. Also, if the worst does come to pass, if might be very difficult to reach your location especially if you have to travel miles on foot to get there.

Imagine the potential disasters that could take place. Is it easy to get to your bug out location? If the answer is no, then it’s not a good BOL. Make sure that you have multiple access points and quick escape routes.

2- Knowledge of Your Location

  • Make sure that you can easily access your location without a map.
  • Have a good understanding of the climate and weather patterns.
  • If there are neighbors nearby, get to know them.

You must know the ins and outs of your location. Your BOL will be useless if you can’t find it or if you get lost on your way there. Take the time to visit your site often, thoroughly explore and hike the surrounding areas. I like to make sure that I spend all 4 seasons in an area. This doesn’t mean that you have to live there full time, but make sure that you visit the location a few times during each season during the day and also at night. A location might transform in darkness and it’s good to be familiar with all the subtle nuances. This is also a good time to plan where you will set up traps, hunt, and possibly store some food for a rainy day.

3- Seclusion

  • A remote area that is difficult for outsiders to get to.
  • Accessible year round, yet inconvenient to get to.

You don’t want your location to be easy to find. It should be off of the main roads and have plentiful tree coverage. You want to be properly concealed so that anyone who is passing through the vicinity would not even know that your place exists during the day or at night. Try to be invisible. This means that you don’t want your lights to be seen.

The goal is to be completely concealed from all senses. You will need to take special care if you build a fire because the smoke from a fire is visible from a long distance so it is best to do that at night. You should only cook at night and because cooking smells can travel up to half a mile.

4- Shelter

  • The presence of cabins, caves, or cellars
  • Something to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • Will withstand common natural disasters for the area

You will need a cabin, camper, tent, cave or other shelter that will keep you safe during the worst kind of emergency. What do you plan on living in? Keep in mind that it may take you longer than a day to reach your bug out location. Make sure that you are prepared to camp regardless of the season. If you can purchase a property that already has a house or cabin that would be great (the Big Island of Hawaii is ideal because it is remote and has a good climate year round). However, to get something remote enough to serve as a bug out location, you may need to buy land and build on it.

Prepare for a long-term stay

A root cellar type shelter is an excellent low cost alternative for creating shelter. It is a cheap, but labor intensive process that will benefit you in many ways. I like it because it is very easy to disguise and camouflage and it will stay cool during the summer. It is safe in most weather conditions except flooding.

5- Accessible water sources

  • Potable water is an absolute must. Make sure that there are nearby lakes, rivers, wells, or other water sources that are available year-round.
  • Must have necessary water purification supplies

Dehydration is deadly and happens quickly after a disaster and access to clean, drinkable water is an absolute must. There is no way of knowing how long you will need to stay at your bug out location so it is vital to have water sources nearby. You may be there for weeks, months, or longer and stored water bottles will only last for so long.

Make sure that you have supplies for purifying water in addition to a good cast iron pot, fire pit, and strainer to ensure that you can always provide clean water for your family. You will also want access to a place for bathing and washing dishes and clothes especially if you have to bug out for a prolonged period of time.

6- Available supplies

  • Have the ability to stock your BOL before SHTF
  • Your BOL needs some kind of secure storage.

You will need to stock up on supplies until you have a complete store of necessities at each of your bug out locations. If you cannot safely store supplies then you will need to find a solution. Can you safely conceal a bug out bag or install some shelving? Or build an in ground root cellar that is connected to your shelter? It is important to have a secure way to conceal your supplies.

7- Self-sufficiency / renewable food sources

  • Game rich lands for hunting or lakes for fishing
  • A food garden
  • Good soil quality, sunlight, and irrigation source for growing food.
  • A source of electricity (solar, wind, and/or water)
  • A source of firewood
  • Space and resources for livestock

Keep in mind that you might be at your bug out location for an indeterminate amount of time. You will no longer be able to rely on the power-grid and you won’t be running to the store every time you need to restock your pantry. We can only store so much emergency food at any given location. If there is a place nearby for hunting, trapping, fishing, and foraging, you will be much better prepared for a potential long-term stay. Self-sufficiency will be vital. You must have everything that you need on your property or be able to produce it.

8- Security

  • Have at least one vantage point and one natural barrier.
  • Good locations for alarms, traps, and weapons are a must.

In the worst of times, unprepared people will try to take from the people who have things. It will be important for you to have a place that you can easily defend. If your bug out location is well-concealed then you are well on your way to having a secure place. However, you need to make sure that it is not only concealed, but also difficult to access.

Be inconvenient and inaccessible

No one should ever be able to approach your bugout location without you being aware of it. Make sure that you know which roads and paths lead to your property and monitor them at all times. Is there a waterway that will lead to your location?

You need to have an intimate understanding of the strengths and vulnerabilities of your property that way you can plan an offensive that will keep you concealed while you defend what’s yours.

PRO TIP: Get yourself some sentry alarm mines then load them with .22 blank ammo and attach them to a trip wire.

9- Beware of Natural Threats

  • Understand the potential natural threats of your area
  • Plan accordingly

When it comes to the location of your BOL make sure that you understand the potential natural hazards and threats of the area. Is the area prone to flooding, earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, or tornadoes? Do your best to find a location that is as safe from natural threats as possible.

Sadly, not all of us have access to regions that are free of hazards so you need to assess the threats in your area ahead of time and prepare accordingly. For example, if your area is prone to forest fires then clear the areas around your structures so that the fires cannot easily burn them down.

10- Red Tape

Make sure that you know the requirements and government regulations. Does your property have specific zoning? What kinds of permits do you need to build on or alter your property? Once SHTF this will probably not be an issue, but you’ll want to deal with the red tape before that happens.

11- Storage

  • Storage solutions should be secure and safe
  • Have multiple storage locations. Just in case.

You will need to keep your food and munitions dry and organized. It is absolutely necessary for you to be able to access your supplies from within your shelter. A root cellar that is located within your shelter may be great for storing food, but the damp conditions are poor for storing anything made of metal. Consider dedicating a dry room to storing your weapons.

Remember to stash a few around the land and in multiple locations just in case you are caught unaware. It’s also good to have an additional stash / bugout bag to grab if you have to make a swift getaway.

12- Bathroom “facilities”

  • This is a necessity. Make sure that you have one ready before SHTF
  • Your bathroom “spot” needs to be a safe distance from your food and water source.

Again, this is a topic that people don’t really want to think about, but you need to figure out how to deal with bodily waste if you BOL doesn’t have a septic tank. Bodily waste is a smelly bio-hazard material that can give away your presence if it is dumped in the same place over a span of time.

If you’re prepping for a long-term bugout a compost toilet is the way to go. It is easy to use, traps odors, and provides needed nutrients for your garden. Talk about not wasting your waste and making it work for you!

CAUTION: Never dump stool into a stream or close to your food. It will contaminate food and water and potentially spread disease.

Proximity: How close should your bug out location be?

In an emergency services and supplies will be limited and most people will try to escape at the same time. Keep this in mind when you are selecting your location. Ideally, you want your location to be no further than what one tank of gas and a short hike can take you. You also want to be able to get there within one daylight period.

Plan for the harshest situations and inclement weather such as extreme heat, ice/snowstorms, and flooding. Are you able to climb that steep bluff in the pouring down rain or in the snow? Is that windy road accessible during the December blizzards? Would you be able to make that river crossing during a flood? Take all of these different scenarios into consideration and plan for them.

When selecting your location, keep the proximity close and accessible in all weather conditions.

Supplies to stash at your Bug Out Location:

You should tailor your supplies to meet the specific needs of your family, but there are some basic essentials that should be present at every survival retreat. Here are some ideas.

10 Foods with the longest shelf life:

Available at your local supermarket. The listed shelf lives on the chart below are approximate estimations.

Food:Shelf Life:
Granulated Sugar30 years
Pasta30 years
Beans30 years
Rolled Oats30 years
Mashed potato flakes15 years
Powdered Milk20 years
Popcorn30 years


  • Large and small containers of purified water prepared for long term storage.

Clothing and Bedding

I prefer synthetic clothing because it is easy to wash and dry. Cotton panties will stay wet for a very long time and this can get uncomfortable. The list below is obviously a list for a fully stocked bugout location. I would never bring all of these items with me if I were on the run or backpacking.

  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Underwear
  • Wool socks
  • Belts
  • Jacket
  • Coat
  • Coveralls
  • Boots
  • Hiking Boots
  • Hat
  • Earmuffs
  • Sleeping bag, sheets, blankets, pillow cases
  • Laundry detergent to wash your clothing and bedding

Toiletries (Bring LOTS of Floss! This is something people don’t talk about)

  • Start stocking up on floss right now. I don’t believe in stockpiling a lot of items, but floss is something that I will stock.
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Comb/brush
  • Dry body brush (useful if a shower or bath is unavailable)
  • Hand and body soaps
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Lotion
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Deodorant
  • Hair elastics, clips, headbands

Kitchen Supplies

  • An aluminum or teflon pot (for boiling water, soups, and pasta)
  • Cast iron skillet (ideal for grilling, meats, eggs, veggies, and toasting bread)
  • A cast iron dutch oven
  • Can opener
  • Cooking utensils such as tongs, serving spoons, spatula, knives, ladles, etc.
  • Plates, bowls, cups, forks, spoons
  • Reusable food storage: mason jars, bowls with lids, tupperware, etc.
  • Matches or lighter
  • Fuel for fire such as cardboard, camp wood, charcoal, axe / hatchet to access more wood

First Aid Kit

  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Allergy medicine
  • Aspirin
  • Tums
  • Any prescription medication that you or your family requires
  • Bandages
  • Burn cream
  • Ointment / healing gels
  • essential oils
  • Arnica
  • Epsom salt
  • Anti-bug sting cream


  • Bear spray (works really well on people too)
  • Pepper spray
  • Guns
  • Ammunition
  • Bow and Arrows
  • Rope
  • Fire Extinguisher

Gardening Supplies:

  • Loppers
  • Shovel
  • Buckets
  • Seeds
  • PVC pipe (if you need to create an irrigation system)
  • Pruners

Fishing and Hunting Supplies:

  • Fishing Poles
  • Extra string
  • Long-lasting bait (or the ability to dig up your own bait)
  • Additional leads, bobbers, hooks, and sinkers
  • A good knife (for filleting, field dressing, and skinning)
  • A strong pair of shears
  • Trash bags (for meat)
  • Ziploc bags (for innards, liver, heart, and other organs you want to save)
  • Hunting rifle
  • Rope
  • Cooler

Bug out location checklist:

  1. Easy to access in all weather.
  2. Well concealed, off the highway, maybe on a dirt road that you haven’t talked about on Facebook.
  3. Multiple access points.
  4. Multiple escape routes.
  5. Property touches or is near state or public land.
  6. Has a sufficient shelter.
  7. Has at least one lookout /vantage point.
  8. At least one natural barrier such as a cliff, mountain, river, etc.
  9. Lots of storage.
  10. Storage can be stocked before a natural disaster.
  11. Has a water source nearby such as a stream, lake, or well.
  12. Available renewable food sources such as fishing, hunting, foraging, or available farming.
  13. Access to a latrine.
  14. You are very knowledgeable of the area and can access the location without a map.
  15. The location is at a low risk or highly prepared for a natural disaster.

Buying a Bug Out Location

There are a number of ways to find a good bug out property. Talk with a local real estate agent and search for wooded lots or fishing or hunting cabins nearby. These cabins would be well equipped with some of the aspects we discussed above and additional features like access roads, cooking equipment, and septic / toilets.

Make it a point to personally visit any potential property. Bring a real estate agent or someone that you trust. You need to make sure that it is exactly what you expect and if someone is selling it for a good price you need to know why. There might be a negative aspect that you cannot see online. It is best to buy your land in cash and keep it a secret.

If there are no cabins nearby, you can also look at public land. National forests are better than national parks. Get some topographical maps and look for secluded areas that have good access to water.

Where can you find your perfect BOL Getaway?

  1. Craigslist is a great place to find listings that aren’t real estate agent’s sites. There are listings that often include very remote plots of land.
  2. Word of mouth. Speak with locals in the area that you plan to bug out. Of course you shouldn’t talk about your specific bug out plans, but you can chat with them about different areas and lots that might be fore sale.
  3. Survival Realty. This might be the best place to find your BOL. They work nationally with both real estate agents and owners who are selling very remote properties.
  4. boasts that it is America’s number one source for off-grid properties, farms, and ranches.
  5. lists isolated areas for sale across America.
  6. United Country Real Estate offers land for sale in the US, Mexico, and Panama.
  7. You can also search nationwide real estate websites like Zillow, Redfin, Realtor, and Trulia.

A good bugout location is accessible all year round and easy for you to find, well-hidden and difficult for others to detect. Keep it a secret so that others don’t show up during a disaster and raid your stash.


Just imagine the sense of peace and reassurance you will have once you have a bugout location that meets all of these requirements. What do you look for in a bug out location? Would you stay close to home or completely relocate? Comment below to share!

Thanks for joining me today!