Fishing. Fish are one of the best items to get in a survival situation and one of the easiest to pack for. A couple of fish hooks take up almost no space and is usually one of the EDC items to carry. The weights and bait can usually be found where you find the fish. You’ll need some kind of line to hang the hooks and since fishing line is great for tying things up, I pack that along with hooks in my smallest bags. In my bigger bags, I keep a small fish net.
Simon, I keep a canvas shopping bag in the bottom of my BOB. It has a ton of uses. You can use it to filter water out of muddy ground by digging a hole and lining it with the bag, or by filling the bag with mud and letting it drip out. It makes good material to fix rips and tears in your gear. It’s good for keeping flies off meat, good for putting wet clothes in and hanging on the outside of your pack, good for carried foraged food, good for getting wet and using it to cool things, and like you say, good for packing up all the crap that you’ve Tetris-ized into your bag when you had it on a nice clean, living room floor that doesn’t fit now that you don’t have 4 hours to pack your BOB.
Design – The best bug out bag is one with plenty of pockets. This allows you to compartmentalize your bug out bag essentials so that you know exactly where everything is and you don’t have to dig through mountains of other stuff to find what you need. Put all your fire and light things together such as tactical flashlight, candles, headlamp, fire starting kit and storm proof matches. Put maps, GPS devices, compass and other navigation related items in their own pocket and so on. The more you can separate things the easier it will be to transcend your difficulties.
A commercial option for people who choose to take the minimalist route is the Pocket Survival Pak from Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL). This wallet-size packet of miniature multi-use survival items includes duct tape, a pencil, safety pins, seweing needle, nylon thread, aluminum foil, compass, fish hooks and sinkers, magnifying lens, braided nylon cord, stainless steel wire, scalpel blade, signal mirror, fire starter, tinder, waterproof paper, whistle, and a waterproof instructional sheet on the items.
Survival kits, in a variety of sizes, contain supplies and tools to provide a survivor with basic shelter against the elements, help him or her to keep warm, meet basic health and first aid needs, provide food and water, signal to rescuers, and assist in finding the way back to help. Supplies in a survival kit normally contain a knife (often a Swiss army knife or a multi-tool), matches, tinder, first aid kit, bandana, fish hooks, sewing kit, and a flashlight.
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Containers. Camelbaks are great to have in your bug out bag because you can carry quite a bit of water in a comfortable way, and access it without having to dig things out. They’re also very weight and space friendly. Canteens or water bottles can also be used. When on tactical missions, I always tried to have a camelback on my armor and also drink from water bottles whenever possible. Don’t forget to have at least one container that’s already full of water in case you don’t come across any to gather or filter for a while.
One of the key categories that people miss in packing their bugout bag is documents because they have the mindset that they are going to be stuck out in the middle of the woods somewhere. This may be the case, but hopefully at some point, you’ll make it back to civilization. Even if it’s The End Of The World As We Know It civilization is going to have to start somewhere and having identification and documents from the past may come in handy. Either way, don’t screw yourself by choosing not to carry these essential items. I would suggest laminating everything or at least putting them in waterproof containers somehow.
To run all these flashlights, and other things, you’ll need batteries. One of the best ways to go about this is to get all your items to run on the same size battery. That way you only have to stock one size so you can cut down on the number of spares you’ll have to carry. If you can get a solar charger and rechargeable batteries, you’ll be even better off. I use CR123’s for as many things as I can find but there’s a good argument for using AA batteries due to how easy they are to find. I may end up switching over to all rechargeable AA at some point but I’ll have to replace a lot of flashlights to do that. I’ve switched to AA battery lights so I don’t have to carry as many batteries and I can charge them all with the solar panel, USB battery, wall power, or computer USB. Check out my Almost unlimited power for your camping or bug out bag electronics article if you want to see how I did it..
Radio transceiver, standard VHF marine when operating near inland shore, 121.5 MHz AM VHF guard channel capable aircraft band transceiver to contact rescuers and high overflying commercial and military aircraft visible by contrails, an optional amateur radio if a licensed radio amateur, (see Ham Radio) or an AM/FM/Weather/Shortwave radio receiver to receive precise time for celestial navigation as well as weather information