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Should You Bug Out To The Woods When SHTF?

Should You Bug Out To The Woods When SHTF?

The UK has a much less varied landscape than places like the US and Asia, that’s why if you decide to bug out to the woods, it’s likely that you’ll end up living in one of Britain’s many forests or national parks.  This has many advantages as there’s most probably access to running water, and

The UK has a much less varied landscape than places like the US and Asia, that’s why if you decide to bug out to the woods, it’s likely that you’ll end up living in one of Britain’s many forests or national parks. 

This has many advantages as there’s most probably access to running water, and you’ll be safe from others as it’s not difficult to make camouflage.

However, this is an entry level breakdown of life in the great outdoors and in the rest of this article, we’re going to tell you what it’s really like.

There’s pros and cons, and you will need to do a lot of research before you start thinking about bugging out to the woods in great British forests like Sherwood, Epping or Kielder compared to bugging in.

But as a prepper, this is what you should’ve come to expect, and as you’ve searched this article out you’ve already likely considered this as an option.

Getting Ready For Your Bug Out To The Woods

When you bug out to the woods it isn’t as simple as heading into the trees and deciding where you want to stop – it takes a lot of planning, and if you want to have any form of comfort, you are going to have to integrate aspects of your day-to-day into it.

That means setting up a waterproof shelter, protecting yourself from any potential risks, and considering the environment around you.

There are small things preppers recommend that can make a world of difference, including living under treetops to prevent the rain, locating yourself near a river so you have access to running water, and choosing heavily grown areas so human threats can’t see you.

You can also do some research into things that will affect you post-move. This includes how to forage, how to filter water so it’s potable and how to build an effective, camouflaged and element-proof shelter.

The First Few Days In Your New Forest Home

You don’t know how long you’ll have to bug out to the woods for, but if you’re in a situation where you have to go there in the first place, it’s likely that you’ll be there for a while.

The human body can last a few days without water, and three without food – but these will both be shortened with tasks like collecting firewood, walking around constantly, and generally just trying to survive in an environment harsher than your home.

That’s why it’s absolutely essential over the first two days that you get your affairs in order whilst you are still strong. Work out what you’re near. Decide what, and where, the nearby risks are.

Think about what you can eat, how far it is from your home, and how long you can live off the things you’ve found. Anybody who has walked through a British woodland knows that it is not (to the naked eye) filled with an abundance or range of food, so you’ll need to bring quite a bit with you. 

If you do this upon arrival, you’ll be off to a great start, and you can then prioritise the later stages.

Make sure to build a shelter early, too, as you won’t survive long at all if you just dump a sleeping bag somewhere and hope for the best. For this reason, we always recommend having a decent tent or tarps in your bug out bag.

You can find a simple chart here of the best things to gather early on, although you should have supplies with you anyway.

Why Not Try It Out First?

man sitting outside in a forest with a fire

As mentioned above, the UK’s climate doesn’t vary too much, unless you go somewhere like the Scottish Isles, where you’ll experience more extreme weather – but only more wind and rain.

That means it’s easy to experience your life when you bug out to the woods before SHTF as you can emulate the experience at a camping site.

Places like Northumberland, Cornwall and the Lake District are good suggestions, as these feature many legal sites where you can experience wild camping without having to worry about making mistakes.

Wherever you’re located, from Scotland to Wales, you won’t be too far from a good site – check out the best ones here and find a nearby woodland. Who knows, if you try out a few you may just find your ideal woodland bug out location.

It’s absolutely integral that you make adequate changes throughout the year so that you aren’t caught out by the changing months.

This can be both long and short-term changes, from collecting firewood and allowing it to dry for months, to planting seeds at the right time so they’re ready to be harvested when they’re fully ready.

Consider Your Mental State

A disaster situation will, of course, have a detrimental effect on you – this is to be expected, and everyone will go through the same. But another thing that will affect you is spending time on your own out in the woods.

It’s just you and your thoughts, and many who’ve experienced this say that it has its ups and downs, as you get to contemplate things you wouldn’t normally think.

Just watching the American TV series ‘Alone’ really highlights this fact, and just a few weeks of solitude will make you a different man.

This can also be a good thing, as you can take an introspective look at yourself. Many who choose to live in the woods, even in a non-SHTF situation, meditate as it helps them become closer with nature, which is their new home.

Everyone that lives in the woods already says you need to completely own it. It’s not a half-assed move, and not something you would do on a whim. It’s your life now, and you need to adapt to it, otherwise you won’t truly feel comfortable.

Don’t Forget To Think Long-Term

A plan to bug out to the woods might seem idyllic for the first few weeks, but it may quickly start to lose its appeal over a longer period if you can’t adapt and set up a good routine.

To really survive in the forest, you’ll need a stable shelter that is well hidden, as it’s likely people may still be walking the paths and will notice anything different such as the smell of smoke or tents.

In the event that cities turn into warzones with people rioting, we can guarantee you won’t be the only one heading to the woods. With a population approaching 70 million people in the next few years, Britain is a relatively small island with only around 4,500 square miles of forest.

Compare this to the 1,300,000 million square miles of forest in the USA and it becomes clear just how little forest the UK actually has to lose yourself in.

All of that game you had imagined you would catch will now be much more competitive, and your isolated forest location is likely to become a small community rather than the solitary haven you’d hoped it would be.

If the government is still around and actively searching for you – because you won’t join their new world order – then you’ll likely be found much more easily with so many people there as it will become a target.

Much of the UK woodland is also deciduous rather than coniferous too, so come winter you will have no shelter at all from rain or helicopters out searching for runaways.

Food production is also likely to be a key issue. Remember that in a forest you won’t be able to plant lots of seeds in the ground as there isn’t much light, so bear that in mind also as you prepare for forest life.

You’ll likely have to grow them in a clearing or on a nearby piece of field. Forest life in the UK would likely require a large stockpile of tinned goods to keep you going.



Moving into the woods is a last resort, and not something to be taken likely.

You have to do a lot of preparation in advance – from making sure you’ve found the right spot to settle, to ensuring you’ve got everything you need and have done the research, it’s a big commitment, but it is worth it.

When SHTF, you may have to live outside as your current property is out of use. Despite this, it’s best that you don’t live outside because it’s more dangerous and much less predictable.

However, it can be done – just make sure you get enough practice before you make the move.



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