B.O.B. ~ The Bug Out Bag.
The bug out bag, or B.O.B. as I like to call it, has been covered, discussed, and argued about all over the internet for several years. Everyone has an opinion on what b.o.b. should include and in the end; yours will always be different than mine. Here, I will be showing you what I have placed in mine and the reasons for these choices. You need to understand that what is right for me may not be right for you. I will give examples of what I have done and what you can do differently. I expect you, the reader, to make an informed decision on what you will do to best serve YOU, not me.
My concept of the Bug Out Bag is a 4 phase, scalable system. This approach gives me the ability to adapt the immediate needs to the situation. It also gives me freedom of always being a little prepared for anything with little or no effort when I need to flee. You will have to consider your lifestyle, where you live, and what situations you may be facing. I live in Maine, my planning is for “Oh my God is it cold out and it’s snowing.” Bad things never happen when it is 70° and sunny.
The entire Bug Out Bag 4 phase concept below is created mostly from items I already owned. Very few of the items below, I had to purchase. If I were to go out and buy everything new, it could get expensive very quickly. I built this system over time. I often will buy a replacement item for my daily life and keep the old one but add it to b.o.b.. Look at some of your older but still service able items for use. Just because it is old, does not mean it is no good! As I replace clothing from normal wear and tear, I will update my extra clothing in my b.o.b. with my not so nice, but still serviceable items.
Once a month, look at your B.O.B. as though you were going to need it right now. As the year goes by, the seasons change and what was a great idea in July, might not be so useful in January. It will also keep you from having items that will not be any good if left for years. Battery’s can die, medicines have expiration dates, clothing may not even fit if you have gained or lost weight, or your needs just have changed. Looking at the contents of the bag on a regular basis will make sure it will be ready for you NOW, not back then.
Stage 1 ~ Everyday Attire (Duration, next 24 Hours)
This first stage is the best most basic preparation I can make for myself. This first level may not work for you.
I start with my daily clothing. I wear rugged heavy duty work pants, a tee shirt, heavy button up shirt. I wear a gortex lined hiking boot with steel toes (required by my employer). In the summer months, the button up shirt is kept with me even if it is too warm to wear it. I always wear a belt with a leatherman, a mini-mag led flash light. I also have a pda holster that holds a tin which has Band-Aids, antiseptic ointment, anti-diarrhea pills, and aspirin. I keep several pens, a small note pad, and a bic lighter in my shirt pocket. I add a hat, my wallet, phone, and keys to complete my attire. I always keep emergency cash on me; atm’s will not work without electricity. These items are always present. This is enough to allow me reasonable comfort in most weather for most of the year in my home state of Maine. In the winter months I add a thermal layer top and bottom, hat, gloves, and an outer heavy coat as needed.
There is nothing really out of the ordinary with this list of items, but because I wear these same items on a daily basis, I am better prepared than most people even before I grab my bag.
This completes Stage 1.
Stage 2 ~ The Actual Bag (Duration, Next 2 Days)
I have an individual bag for each member of the family. Everyone shares the load. Think of a bag you would pack to take on a single overnight hike.
The bags I have chosen are a heavy duty day pack design. They are suitable for an overnight hiking trip with a lumbar support strap and padded shoulder straps for all day carrying, having many pockets and areas so contents are easily accessed and organized. Most items are wrapped in a water tight package/bag. Space saver bags and Ziploc bags are great ways to water proof and compact the contents of the pack. The plastic bags are then also available for other uses in survival situations.
The items in this bag are chosen to complement the stage 1 items. If you choose to not wear a knife and a flashlight on a daily basis, then you will need to include them in this bag. As I said before, what works for me may not be right for you. Moving items across the different stages can make your individual situation easier on a daily basis.
With my stage 1 kit in mind, the stage 2 bag I have prepared has the following list of items.
Full change of clothing, including 2 sets under garments.
Reason: being able to change into clean, dry clothing can make the difference between life and death if you get wet and the temperature drops. It also will give you 2 full sets so while you are wearing one, you can launder and repair the other.
Small roll of poly or several garbage bags (plastic sheeting).
Reason: used for multiple things, shelter from rain/snow, water collection, wind break, dew shield. A 10’x10’ sheet can be folded and rolled in to an amazingly small package and is extremely light to carry. A large contractor garbage bag is extremely strong and can be made into a rain poncho or keep your whole bag dry in a heavy downpour. This should be smaller than a single 12oz. can of soda.
A good first aid kit with a first aid reference book.
Reason: Living can HURT!
TOILET PAPER IN A ZIPLOC BAG.
Reason: Do I really have to explain this? Notice the capitol letters.
Reason: You die with out it. 1 gallon per person, per day average for most places in the country. Hotter areas more. The Stage 2 Bag should get you 2 days. 2 gallons water weighs about 16 pounds. A good canteen will be nice to hang off the bag, but leave it empty so the water inside it doesn’t grow nasty things. If you stage bottled water, realize most of it has expiration dates and the bottles are not made to be tough.
Rain coat or Poncho.
Reason: A rain coat will keep you dry and will stop the wind. It will also help keep you warm at night. A poncho can cover you AND your B.O.B. while hiking. A poncho can also be used as a makeshift tent/shelter.
Batteries for your flashlight.
Reason: You carry your flashlight everyday right? The batteries will die just as soon as the world ends and you are going to need new ones.
Spare pocket knife
Reason: It is too handy to not have a replacement for the one that fell out of your sheath 7 miles back.
Compass and Map for my Area
Reason: I am never lost; the road just isn’t where it ought to be!
Small amount of food. A few meal bars, maybe an MRE pack, or a can or two of a food that does not need to be heated to be eaten. This is not the place for a week’s supply of food. A plastic spork might be handy though and it does not weigh much.
Reason: You really do NOT need food for the 2-3 day level. It will be extremely uncomfortable to go without but you will not die. If you have young children, they will be much happier to have a little something. Your individual situation will depend on your choice here. Note: I had a near death experience in 2005 where I was unable to keep any food down from March to August. I lost a LOT of weight and after several surgeries I survived, finally being overweight was a good thing! I learned the hard way I could live for a VERY long time with out food. It was not pleasant, but I made it through. Remember this is the short term bag.
Small Tarp or Backpacker 1-2 man Tent
Reason: Shelter. A small tarp is more easily packed than a tent, and if used right, all you need. The tent will do you better if the weather turns really nasty. Again, one or two nights only is the key.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket.
Reason: Staying warm is vital. Hypothermia will kill you. If you roll a sleeping bag around a tent and then roll it in a small tarp and stuff it into a contractor garbage bag, you can have a small bundle that is easily tied to the backpack and will stay waterproofed and leave room in your bag. Most hiking backpacks have a location to do just this. Also, if you buy a new sleeping bag for this purpose, you can get an amazing bag that will roll up super small and keep you warm in the worst winter. The new bags are amazing, but expensive. I still use the old heavy bags. Some day maybe I will upgrade!
Reason: Lots of uses. I have several 550 cord (also called parachute cord) survival bracelets my wife made for me. I have them clipped to my back pack. The ones my wife makes are really cool. They cost less than 4 dollars each and have 20 feet of cord. Double the normal ones. This gives me 60’ or more of rope that is always useful. You can just toss a roll in the bag or you can wear a bracelet. Up to you, but it might save your life, secure your tarp, or make a close line. 550 can also be used to make a shoe lace in a pinch.
Water filter/purification tablets.
Reason: Increase survival duration. There is a company that makes a wonderful water bottle that is also a water filtration system. Being able to expand your water reserve makes your daypack into a week long pack if things go really wrong. Carrying enough water for a week is unrealistic. That’s 54 pounds of water! I don’t want to carry that! But a water filter weighs less than a pound. I can carry that no problem. If you add some purification tablets (they don’t really purify, they just kill the bad stuff in the water you hope!) or an Ultraviolet light pen you can increase the odds of not getting sick from bad water. Just turn the light pen on and follow the directions. The uv light will kill most of the bacteria found in natural water sources. Most bottled water is run through a uv light system prior to bottling anyway.
Personal Hygiene products.
Reason: Staying clean is staying healthy. Plus after the worst day EVER, washing your face and hands will go a very long way to making you feel a whole lot better. If you have women in your group include the monthly pads. These will be a gift from god at the right time and if someone is severely cut, the pads will make a great makeshift bandage. A bar of soap, a travel tooth brush and a travel sized tooth paste seem like a silly thing, but really can make you feel better. Include a small towel; it will be very useful for more than just drying your hands. Oh, and the more people start stinking, the shorter tempers get.
A small emergency sewing kit
Reason: Keeping your clothing in good repair can make the first two stages of this system extend much farther than intended if it really is the end of the world. As this item is super tiny and weighs almost nothing, add it. It has been suggested to me that leaving the sewing kit out and replacing it with a small bottle of superglue can be used for the same job and can be used to glue cuts together like stitches. It can also be used to repair other items. Up to you what you use.
Eyeglass repair kit (if needed)
Reason: This too is a super tiny item but if you have glasses, and just need a stupid tiny screw….well, you get the idea. (Just make sure you have the CORRECT sized screw in the kit!)
1 Road Flare
Reason: Signaling for help and if it is a torrential downpour, you can start a fire. A chem light can also be useful.
Reason: Getting someone’s attention might get you rescued. Good idea to put it around your neck when you grab the bag.
Flash Drive (Optional sorta)
Reason: What the hell do I need this for!?!? Well, you have a copy of every important document you have on this drive, like an image of your homeowners policy, copies of all those photos of your dead relatives that can NEVER be replaced, the hundreds of pieces of electronic data that make up our modern lives and we take for granted. This tiny 10 dollar insurance policy means you will have something when it is all over. You return to where you house WAS and if it is totally gone, you at least have this tiny piece. What you put on this drive is up to you, but I keep all the important documents and good photos of everything that was in my house so when I have to file an insurance claim I can point to the photos and show the insurance company, yes I really did have a huge tv…
Stage 3 ~ We’re going camping honey…. (Duration: 2 weeks)
Stage 3 is really a big expansion of stage 2. You put together a plastic tote with a two week supply of food, cooking equipment, axe, water, clothing, etc. Think a big two week camping trip. It is all packed up, in a sealed tote, ready to go. Simply tossing it into a vehicle and you are gone. Most of the time, if you grab number 2, then you grab number 3 and go. Why not, the car doesn’t really care if it weighs 100 pounds.
Stage 4 ~ We’re moving dear…. (Duration: who knows.)
Stage 4 is the vehicle you intend to flee in. You should not have to do much for this except change how you think of your car and what you keep in the car.
1. Never let it get below ½ tank of gas. Driving range is survival.
2. Keep car maintained and in good repair. (Simple logic right?)
3. Keep a tire plug kit in the glove box and learn how to use it.
4. Get a 12v emergency air compressor.
5. Package of toilet paper.
6. At least one blanket in the car at all times.
7. Keep at least 1 gallon drinking water in car at all times. (it can save the humans OR the car.)
8. Have a small shovel and an axe in the car. If you are in a National Forest it is federal law….did you know that?
9. Preplan your evacuation routes. Keep to back roads.
10. Preplan your evacuation Destination.
11. Always know where everyone in your family is at all times. If you need to go get your children before you flee, know where they will be.