This is a continuation of Part 1 that was posted last week. Part 3 will be posted next week.
A frequent question asked is "what bag should I buy and what goes in it"? A great question that is not easily answered. Why? What are you planning for? Body size? Weight in the bag? Season (cold or hot). How gar do you plan to walk? Budget? Are you carrying resources for just you or does your pack include a child or pet? It would be best to do your homework, research, write down your checklist of items and then price for the best buy.
Step 2: Bug Out Bags for every adult
I would encourage a person to read my 5-5-5 Plan which would possibly create a different size of bag and resources based on the event you are leaving your home to be protected from. A house fire is different from a tornado or a wildfire or hurricane. You may have seconds to leave your home vs maybe five minutes or five hours. Understanding why you are packing backpack. You may or may not return home. What are your most needed resources that you can fit in the backpack to survive on for the duration. Self-reliance should be in your thoughts when answering this question. Your bag is always packed and ready to go when you grab it.
A Bug Out Bag (BOB) is basically a backpack that is always packed and ready to go at a moment's notice. It contains a wide range of the basics you need to survive for at least a few days and ideally much longer. Why? Some possible events could include:
* A local order to evacuate because of a storm. (Tornado, Hurricane, earthquake)
* You wake up to a raging fire in your home or a wildfire near your home.
* An aggressor has broken in to your home and you need to leave quickly to protect your family.
* Civil strife has erupted and law and order has broken down. Your plan requires you to leave the area immediately.
* Some form of attack happens and your plan requires you to leave town immediately. This list could have numerous reasons why you would need to leave home. The ones listed above are examples. When picking your backpack and identifying your resources needed, you should take these things in to consideration:
*You can't predict what will happen or the path things will progress.
* There is no possible way to think of or consider every possible scenario. And, you should conduct a risk analysis of the things you identify and list them by most likely to happen. * Weight matters - a lot. Your body size and physical condition should be factored in to your plan.
* Are you in decent physical shape? Identify quality shoes because you might be on foot for a long time.
* The first 72 hours will be chaotic. You will have more unknowns than knowns. The more self-reliant you can make yourself the better your chances to survive will be. You might be in an evacuation or refugee center, out in nature, or squatting in buildings.
* Keep the seasons in mind. Don't pack for winter if it is summer.
* The weather might be insane. What good are the energy bars and water if you forget to select layered clothing, quality socks and boots. Like your conditions that you can't predict, you can't predict the weather either.
* Are you bugging out alone or with family or friends? You might be alone which would require a higher level of survival skills and abilities.
* The greatest tool you will have is your brain and the skills you know how to use. Regardless of your personality, you may become the leader of your group quickly because people around you will be panicked and possibly dangerous. Learn to understand the signs.
* What is your plan if you get injured or hurt and you are alone.
* Know your limits and capabilities.
It is a proven fact that hazardous conditions and events escalates the stress, adrenaline and blood pressure of the individual involved. Unless the individual has trained consecutively on the steps being performed the odds are against them to perform the task the way they should. In my daily job training teams to react to hazardous conditions to help others, one of the things I constantly engrain in their minds is "keep it simple" and "everyone must understand the task or problems will prevail". I see it over and over from the untrained work force. Things that seem simple to most can be difficult to others. Turn up the stress level and problems surface.
In the preparedness community, I encounter folks who have garages full of gear and survival stuff. I call it stuff because often they do not know what they have. If they don't know what they have that means they probably didn't train with it or use it. If this is the case, they have probably wasted lots of time and money. Right? Know what you have and how to use it based around your plan. Take a few minutes to read my article on quantity vs quality if you need further explanation on this topic.
In most cases, you should have a single bag. Keep it simple. There are specific scenarios where multiple bags may apply. For example, I work and live about 240 miles from my home. I keep an additional bag in my truck that is a mobile bag. If I lose my mobility, I then grab my actual Bug Out Bag and leave on foot. This means the mobile bag will stay behind. But, for most individuals they live and work in the same area with less than a one hour commute. You don't need a different bag for each possible scenario. Remember cause and effect. Your basic needs are food, water, shelter, and security as a result of about every possible threat to your way of life. You can't predict how or when. The single given you can predict is what you will need to survive.
You want to sort the ingredients of your bag in a simulated order that you can remember. You do not want to have to sort through your bag pulling things out at every stop. Time may be your worst enemy the first 72 hours. Do not waste time unpacking your backpack to find your sunscreen when you could have packed it in your pants pocket or outer pocket of the backpack.
A question I'm asked often is "about how heavy should my bag be"? The recommended average is 25 lbs. Seems light huh? Strap it on your back and take off walking and see how long you last. Your body size, condition, and health will determine if 25 lbs is good or bad for you. But, don't assume you can handle it before you try it.
You can have more than one bag, but prioritize the bag. Do not base your bags on possible events. I have four bags. My primary Bug Out Bag, my mobile bag that stays with my truck, a day bag which I keep with me at my work place (food, water, energy bars, rain gear, whistle, solar charger, change of shoes, socks and clothing) and this supports me during the day, as needed. My fourth bag is what we call our football bag. This bag is with me or Ms. Lucy 24 x 7. The bag contains all of our digital files for deeds, certificates, passports, pictures, bank records (monthly) and titles. I would encourage you to do the same.
In the 5-5-5 Plan, you have three type scenarios where you have to leave your home in five seconds, five minutes, or five hours. A fire, a tornado siren, or a hurricane. As you can tell, each offers a set threat that would require an immediate evacuation vs a hurricane where you have several hours to prepared and depart. Based on this framework, it will determine how fast you will leave which determines how much you can carry with you. In five seconds you grab your bag and depart. In five hours you can pack your car and grab your bag to depart.
As I discussed earlier about my Bug Out Bag and Mobility Bag in my truck, you may have to ditch the mobility bag, or if someone is with you without a bag, hand them the mobility bag to carry.
As I have suggested previously, I would discourage you from buying off-the-shelf kits. A stranger packed them. Do you want to put your life in the hands of a stranger? The equipment is also not totally reliable in many cases. Dependable products could be the difference in your survival.
So let's talk about what you should consider packing in your backpack. You can search the internet for checklist and by the time you finish you will have a semi-truck full of stuff. Remember, want vs need. Keep it simple. Food, water, shelter and security.
1. Backpack: it is critical that you find the pack that fits your physical frame. Try it on, put some weight in it and walk to see how it feels.
2. Water: You don't want to waste lots of space and weight on water. But, you must have it. Buy a quality life straw, purification tabs and bring a small bottle of unscented bleach to purify the water you locate.
3. Food: Find a product you like, serves you well, provides energy and protein to get you from point A to point B. Weight and size also matters.
4. Fire: matches, fire starters, and a lighter. I carry two empty Altoid style cans with Vaseline coated cotton balls for fire starters. I also use dryer lint as well.
5. Heat: They lightweight Mylar survival blankets are great and an insulated outer layer that you can wear as needed. I also keep a Mylar survival tarp in my bag.
6. Shelter: My Mylar survival tarp serves as a shelter and/or warmth as needed. I also keep a small hammock available.
7. Light: A headlamp allows you to function hands-free. Don't forget a battery and the ability to recharge it. Also have a back-up crank-powered flashlight and candle.
8. Communication: Your ability to survive and possibly be located could depend on how you can communicate. A portable Ham radio is great, as long as you know how to use it and can pick up a signal. Simpler methods are a signal mirror, a whistle, and flares.
9. Medical: Know what you need and how to use it before buying a kit. You can't save a life if you don't know how to use the tools you possess in the kit.
10. Hygiene: camp soap, camp toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer.
11. Navigation: laminated maps, compass, binoculars. Consider downloading a mapping system on a IPAD to have available to you showing terrain and key features. Keep a solar charger in your bag or strapped to you back pack to charge the battery while you walk.
12. Tools: Find a good field knife, multi-tool, some cordage, zip ties, duct tape, and safety pins. I also keep a small pry bar that can break locks, door hinges and remove bolts as needed.
13. Self-defense is a personal choice. If your life depends on it, don't take a pea shooter to a bear hunt. Consider a gun, ammo, knives, or non-lethals.
14. Field guide: Any information is knowledge. Have a compact book with guides on various survival techniques.
15. Documents: As discussed previously, maintain a football bag with any important stuff like copies of birth certificate, medical records. A digital version of this information would be easier to carry than the extra bag.
16. Clothing: One is none and two is one. You should have a hat, sunglasses, socks, maybe a full set of climate-appropriate clothes. Have a second set on hand.
17 .Misc.: cash in small denominations, small paper pad and pen, maybe a psychological comfort item such as playing cards.
Water is your survival. If you don't have it, you will not survive. Pretty simple, huh? Three days without and life goes south. So, you need to build your plan based on your geographical region in the US. A person in the northwest US of A would have better water access than a person in the southwestern US of A. So, the person in the northwestern US of A could pack less water and more of something else. The person in the southwestern US of A would pack more water and less of something else. As previously discussed, you will need water, a life straw for water purification while drinking the water, some water purification tablets, and a small bottle of unscented bleach. This gives you four levels of protection for different events. Worse case you can boil the water. Don't forget to adjust your boil times based on your altitude.
It is very easy to make mistakes deciding which food is best. I would recommend you do it when your appetite is low and your common sense factor is on cue. You do not want to pack the wrong food, heavy food, or comfort food that makes you happy. Also, don't pack perishable items like beef jerky - it's very unlikely you'll take the time to update your BOB food every two months. Also don't use items that are heavy or bulky like canned goods such as soup.
Consider these items when packing your back pack:
1. One MRE (Meal Ready to Eat). I'm not a huge fan of the MRE for a backpack because of size and weight. I personally replaced this option with multiple packs of foil packaged tuna and potted meat. Just a personal choice. I use MRE's for my Bug In Location.
2. One emergency calorie block
3. Three packets of peanut butter is great. Good protein.
4. Bonus: one energy bar or something similar.
NOTE: Keep in mind, food requires water to flush through your system. If you have food and little water, try and avoid eating till you can find water.
There are some other options you can consider but the choices are based on additional equipment you may need. You'll have to decide whether or not you want to have to cook your food and how you will cook it. Depending on how long you are living out of your back pack may determine what you want to eat on day seven or day fifteen. This is part of your planning phase.
Fire is fire and it doesn't change. You will need the same basic stuff as your home supplies. You want to have multiple ways to make fire.
Heat: Survival blankets are a must. As covered previously, layer your clothing and consider what sources you have on hand to keep you warm while you walk, camp, or sleep. You are now on the exterior away from home. Keep your feet and head warm. The Mylar blankets are great to retain body heat. When considering heat sources keep safety in mind. If you use a fire, don't burn up your resources which would leave you with less of your resources while homeless.
Shelter: You can make basic shelters with cordage and a tarp. Tarps are very useful in a range of situations. A shelter can be one of many things. You want to stay dry and warm and protected from the elements. How you do it is mostly up to you. Remember, you could be injured and unable to move for several days. You would want a good plan on a shelter to protect you from the elements.
Light: The primary powered light source in your bug out and get home bags should be a headlamp. You will also need a back-up light and I would have a third source for light. You will need the ability to recharge the batteries. Also secure at least one long-burning candle.
Communication: Our preferred portable radio is the BeoFeng BF-F8HP 8-watt two-way radio. We own six of these radios in our preparedness kits. You don't need a Ham license to listen to local emergency services and broadcast. Consider other means of communications as well. At a minimum you should have a whistle, a mirror, and the ability to build a fire.
Hygiene: Failure to conduct good hygiene could cost you your life. You want the best field wipes for your bug out bag, plus camp soap, camp toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Also include a quality tooth brush and paste.
Navigation: Laminated folding maps are very handy. You may or may not be able to depend on your IPAD maps. Your also need a quality compass and binoculars.
Tools: Find a good field knife, multi-tool, some cordage, zip ties, duct tape, and safety pins. I also keep a small pry bar that can break locks, door hinges and remove bolts as needed.
Self-defense: is a personal choice. If your life depends on it, don't take a pea shooter to a bear hunt. Consider a gun, ammo, knives, or non-lethals.
Field guide: It's helpful to keep a pocket-sized, preferably laminated, survival book in your bag. There are a ton of options out there, but most are rehashes, second-hand accounts, or filled with needless pages about how to milk a cow in the dark. I like the SAS pocket survival guide.
Clothing: There's a reason why characters in military movies refer to socks so often - they're critically important and often overlooked. Remember, One is none and two is one. You should have a hat, sunglasses, socks, maybe a full set of climate-appropriate clothes. Have a second set on hand.
We will continue this discussion in Part 3
Bravo Echo Out