Anyone who has ever heard of survival or emergency prepping has probably heard about the bug out bag. It’s basically a bag full of goodies for you to take with you if you have to leave your home in an emergency. It’s already packed and is usually very accessible, just in case you have to leave immediately.
There are a lot of folks out there that have already made similar bug out bags without even realizing it. These are the emergency kits that are in the cars of everyone with a little bit of forethought.
These kits are usually made up of the kind of things that make roadside emergencies a little easier to live with. Things like gloves, flares and high visibility vests are common in these kits but during the winter months some people choose to add some warm clothes to these kits to ensure that they don’t freeze to death if they have to sleep in their car.
People who make their own bug out bags are usually folks with enough forethought to know that bad things can happen and life is not always a magical fairy tale. They are also aware that they are probably going to be helping those around them so they pack more than they need for just themselves.
How to choose your bug out bag
When it comes to picking out your very first bug out bag there are a few different things that you are going to want to consider before you actually make your purchase.
You are going to want to know if your bag is comfortable to carry. A forty pound bag carried for ten miles can be quite the torture if the straps are cutting into your skin.
You should also consider the color of the bag that you choose. If you want to get rescued, a brightly colored, unnatural looking bag might save your life, but if you are trying to hide, camouflage is always your best friend. If you happen to be hiding with a brightly colored bug out bag, make sure so smear it with as much mud as possible.
You are also going to want to consider the design of your bug out bag. If there are crowds of starving and scared people everywhere, the last think you want to do is look like you are well prepared and have precious food and supplies on you. This is going to make you look like a target and might get you attacked. If you use a well worn, reliable and inconspicuous bag as your bug out bag, instead of that Explorer Tactical Backpack that you have been looking at on amazon.com, you are going to prevent a possible self defense situation.
Many people over the years have said that size doesn’t matter. I now know that they were not taking about bug out bags, because size is very important when choosing your emergency kit. You are going to want to consider your situation before you choose the size of bag. If you are going to be doing a lot of walking, a hockey bag might end up killing you. The other side of the argument is that if you pick a bag that is too small, you might not have enough supplies to live decently.
What To Pack in Your Bug Out Bag
The list of things that you might want to bring with you during an emergency is almost infinite and it gets even bigger if you have a family to take care of. The best way to get around this problem is to pack only the absolute essentials and not anything that can be considered a luxury (like soap).
The image below is probably the best way of show you exactly what you need to properly fill your survival kit. Here is a numbered list to go along with the picture.
2. Medical Emergency Kit – The smallest cut can get infected and lead to a battlefield amputation. This is what killed Bob Marley.
3. Folding Shovel with Cover – This is a great tool to dig a latrine with. You could also dig holes for other reasons too, like building a shelter.
4. Canteen with Cover and Cup – Clean drinking water is one of the top priorities in a survival situation. Three days with out it and you are dead.
5. Solar Charger for Cell Phones – Either call for help or just catch up on the latest tweets from the celebrity that is currently in the news for their personal issues.
6. Fire Starter – A magnesium sparker is so much better than matches or lighters because it works when wet and it never run out of fuel.
7. Multi Tool – This incredible little tool is a great way of packing an entire tool box into a hand held device. Thank you to whoever invented it.
8. Survival Knife – Use this to kill bears and cut things. “Disclaimer: I am not responsible for your imminent bear mauling.”
9. Compass – Sometimes, the sun and the stars are just not enough to guide you. Always knowing where you are is more valuable than most people realize.
10. Survival Blanket – It traps most of your body heat and is so freaking shiny that a passing rescuer would have to be pretty lame to miss it.
11. Water Purification Packets – Powdered or tablets, these might save your life. Make sure they don’t get damp though.
12. Cutlery – Since you can’t always wash up before dinner, cutlery is a great way of keeping your grubby hands off of your food.
13. Signal Mirrors – Desperate for attention? Try a signal mirror. Passing cars, boats and planes all agree that sunshine coming from the wrong direction is very noticeable.
14. Nylon Paracord – Great stuff. There is always a need for ropes and cords. Split it into individual fibers for miles of string.
15. Hand Crank or Solar Lantern – Sometimes you are going to be working in the darkness. This kind of lantern is going to make that a lot easier.
16. Hatchets or Axes – Build a log cabin with these little tools. You might want to pack a sharpening stone as well.
17. Flashlight – Creatures of the dark beware, I will see, catch and eat you.
18. Hand Crank Radio – Knowing what is going on in the world is a great way of know when dangers have cleared. Some Japanese soldiers kept fighting for years after WWII ended.
19. Survival Manual – Knowledge is power. A good book to have and usually full of great advice about how to stay alive during emergency situations.
20. Foam Sleeping Pad – A little bit of protection from a very hard and very cold ground.
21. Map and Document Case – This is a good way of keeping your papers organised and dry.
22. Portable Cooker – A great way to cook what you catch. Throw another squirrel on the BBQ and live it up.
23. Solid Fuel Cubes – These will always light. They are absolutely excellent for getting a fire going on a soggy day.
24. Headlamp – Doing stuff at night is easier with this. Also, you wont need to hold a flashlight with your mouth.
25. Mess Kit – Pots and pans are absolutely essential if you need to boil water and cook some food in it.
26. Duct Tape – This one has been explained by Myth-Busters. YouTube it.
27. Survival Wire – Good for making traps and snares. I hope you aren’t a vegetarian.
28. Safety Signaling Whistle Make a terrible instrument but an excellent way of getting noticed and rescued.
29. Heavy Gloves – Blisters on the hand are a P.I.T.A.
Common Bug Out Bag Mistakes
You might think that you are prepared for anything. You might think that you got your go bag ready and if the SHTF you are going to be the lone survivor in a post apocalyptic world. Guess what? You are probably doing it wrong. There are a few extremely common mistakes that most people make when creating their bug out bag.
Packing Too Much Stuff.
A lot of people think that more is better, but remember that if you are having to carry all of that stuff without any type of mechanical help, all of those pounds are going to mean a lot of pain for yourself. There are many things that are not essential to immediate survival that people add to their bug out bag anyways.
Things like toothpaste and shampoo are not going to be necessary during a bug out situation. If you are planning on living the rest of your life in the bush then bring loads of stuff with you, but If you are packing a 72 hour bag then realize that there are many things that you can leave behind.
It might not seem like much, but the last thing that you want to do is look like you are better off than those around you. If you are proudly displaying the fact that you are prepared with food and water while another person is watching their family starve, you are going to be in trouble.
This means that also want to get a normal looking back pack for your bug out bag. Don’t look too “tacticool” because that is going to make you look like a difficult but nice target. There are going to be many people in the same situation as you so don’t stand out. Also, it is probably not a good idea to brag about your preps, in a crisis your neighbors are going to show up on your door step with their hands out. The military even has the legal right to take your hoarded food if they think it is necessary.
Not Being in Shape.
Have you considered how you are going to carry your bag? You might need to walk for a very long way with a 40 lb bag on your back, are you going to have a heart attack and die or are you going to be a real prepper and prepare your body to do it? The best way to start getting in shape is walking. Walk for longer and longer distances every week and eventually you will be able to add your bug out bag to your daily walks. This will properly prepare you for whatever obstacles are in your path, including diabetes and heart disease.
Not Testing The Gear.
A lot of people are taking the preppers advice lately and packing themselves a 72 hour, or bug out bag. That is great, more people are going to survive a disaster, but how many of them are packing good items into their go bag? People are going to need to test their items before they are having to rely on them. You do not want to be in a life threatening situation and have items break on you. This is only going to make your bad situation much worse.
So get out there and break some gear while you can laugh about it instead of breaking gear when you are going to cry about it.