Disaster preparedness doesn't need to be complicated, but you’ll find that shopping and collecting gear for a DIY bug out bag can prove to be difficult. In many cases, the DIY approach may prove more expensive than necessary, leaving you with items you don’t really need—and shouldn’t waste your money on. Instead of forcing useless items into a bag that won’t hold up, opt for a pre-packed, top-rated bug out bag.
There are a lot of purists out there who scream out whenever you mention bringing any comfort items, saying it’s a survival situation and not a camping trip. Most of these people have never spent more than a drunk weekend at a camping lodge. I’ve spent over a year in the jungles of Africa and in Central America. When you’re gone for months at a time, comfort becomes a priority. You can only carry so much but a few things like toilet paper, pictures of family, and a paperback book to read can sometimes be worth their weight in gold. Or feathers, if that’s a better analogy.
Your car bag should always have essentials for car repair and first aid but you should keep a survival kit in it as well in case you’re caught out without your main bug out bag or if you break down with another person in the car who has to survive with you. My Harley has enough survival and medical equipment on it for me to survive even if I get caught out broken down in the middle of the desert for a couple of days.
Personal Locator Beacons: These are smaller, affordable, reliable, and offer many new features. Companies like SPOT and DeLorme now offer products that post almost real-time tracks of adventurers far off the grid. The SPOT Gen3, for example, sells for as low as $150 and enables users to send simple, pre-programmed messages (all ok, send help, etc.) to friends and family or initiate rescue through a first-responder network.
That’s true, we do. It’s clear that we can’t carry everything to survive for a year or more on our backs and we count on our stash at point B. If it’s not there, we do the best we can, go to a FEMA camp or die. What are our alternatives? I think that most people will go to point B if they see the problem before it arrives (hurricane) but a surprise nuclear attack on Houston (in my case) would necessitate a quick exit along with everyone else still alive. As to ‘bring it’, I certainly would if a. I had an operational vehicle and b. the roads were clear enough to get around minor obstacles – I don’t and won’t have a two ton or half track at my disposal. If not of if my vehicle becomes untenable along the way, I’ll put on my boots and my BOB and do the best I can. As you say, there are many scenarios.
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.
The nice thing about Creek’s bug out bag list is that he gives you a list of categories and then goes through examples for each. What goes in your survival kit shouldn’t be chosen from a list of items you read from a prepper website – even this one. You should look at these bug out bag lists as examples so you get the idea of what you need and can generate some ideas. What you need is a list of essential bug out bag categories to choose from and then some examples from each to get your mind flowing.
I agree with all except this one, “you should carry a water filter instead.” That water filter does NOT filter viruses which can incapacitate or kill just as quickly as can the bacteria it does eliminate. Carry purification tablets & a couple gallon sized double-ziplock baggies or an aluminum/titanium pot (multiple uses) or learn about SODIS instead. Why plan to fail?
Prepping is kinda associated with people who prep for stupidly over the top unlikely SHTF scenarios were if the world as we know it has gone then yes maybe a lot of electronics will be useless, but not all, the longer you keep your mobile alive the longer you could have access to what is basically an e-reader which could house millions of survival books and associated materials like mechanics, first aid etc etc, I’d rather carry my tiny phone and a few batteries and a small solar charger than the weight of a stack of books, because in reality you’d need much more knowledge to survive than the significant majority of people possess in their heads, knowledge is power.
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.
Everyone’s needs when they Bug Out are different. So your Bug Out Bag should suit your needs. Your size/strength, number in party, where you plan to go and for how long will determine what goes in the bag. Bigger groups can share load weights. The only way to determine which bag works for you is to research and try the different sized and designed back packs. In the end, the weight you’ll be carrying may determine whether an external frame or internal frame will be best.
Keep this in mind though – you can’t carry as much as you think you can if you haven’t been out there actually carrying it. This information that I’m gonna give you isn’t a list of all the things you need to have – it’s a list of things you should consider. You should carry the least amount of things that you possibly can. For further information, read How much gear should you put in your bug out bag? and just as important: How much water should be in your bug out bag?.
People ask if I was in the military. Yeah, but it was 80 lbs and 40 years ago. Special Forces “A TEAM” medic in fact. But I forgot a lot of that. I carried 120 lb rut when we moved out, but about 40 lbs of ammo and grenades on patrol. I have 2 dozen ruts now, from patrol size to major moveout size. I put 80 lbs of cat litter (we have a cat rescue) to practice the other day … and I had a very hard time to get up with it. So I dropped that to 40 and hit the treadmill 3 miles and 3 mph. I will need to do that for awhile before increasing the weight. I’m 220 wanting 180 but at 66 yrs it’s becoming harder to do things. Hips, knees, shoulders, knuckles .. they are all stiff and ache. So I may have to cut back. But to tell someone just bring 12 rounds of ammo …… that’s crazy. Get an AR in 22 cal, the Ruger Takedown fits well in our ruts. 300 rnds of 22lr is light. I have a Glock M22 40 can with a 22 conversion that works great, same for 1911 45 / 22. In reality, it all comes down as to what the threat is perceived to be. CPAP: my new one is 10 oz, and 6 days of rechargeable batteries are 4 lbs. Solar panel or 110 to recharge the batteries. Forget the CPAP = loud snoring and dog tired wakeup.
We live in NW Oregon where a 9.2 quake is expected “any time now”. If it occurs, and if we are able to get out of the house or other buildings alive, we will have about 15 minutes to run to high ground which is almost a mile away. We are in our 60s and only moderately fit. We could easily fast-walk that distance in daylight with the ground not moving. Otherwise, doing that with a survival bag, possibly at night with falling trees and torn up, heaving streets will be challenging. So I’d like to keep the bag as light as possible.
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.
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.