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- Essential Bug Out Bag
“We’ve got to go, grab what you need now!” You have seen this in movies or you have experienced it yourself. So what do you do? You don’t have time to pack things or run around the house or room and grab essentials. No, you grab your bug out bag for your transition to survival and getting out of a mess.
It’s the holy grail of prepper essentials. Everyone’s got it. Whether it sits in the car, or behind the front door of your house, everyone knows where their bug out bag is and what’s in it.
In my own military experience, I found that these bags should consist of enough essentials to allow you to survive for 72 hours in the wild (three days). In this window of time you should be able to find another good base or shelter or you use said supplies to find more instinctive ways to get the must-have’s like food, water, fire, and shelter.
Essentially the bug out bag is the lotion to smoothen the transition between order and chaos. Rather than just throwing you into the chaos with only the clothes on your back you will have a bag of the most useful tools at your disposal to keep you and the ones around you alive.
The term gets its origins from U.S forces conducting quick displacements during the Korean War. The tactic was to ensure soldiers, mainly infantry, were able to move quickly with only minimal supplies from defensive positions that were overrun. In this sense, they ‘bugged out’. Ever since those young soldiers used quick escape bags future military and enforcement forces have been developing kits based around the concept of a quick escape and 72-hour survival.
Whatever may occur, your bug out bag is there for a reason. You’re leaving your home so you need to think of the bug out bag as the home on your back, but smaller. You need everything you would have in your prepped fortress in a bag that allows you to remain mobile, able to run and sustain yourself for 72 hours and to assist others around you where needed.
To look at what you’re going to need in your bug out bag we need to identify the primary things we need for survival. They are food, water, shelter and on the off-chance you have a bad encounter or are in a dangerous area, a form of self-defense.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you are an extreme survivalist you could still survive without any of this. There are numerous ways to find food, light fires, get clean drinking water and building a shelter without the use of any tool but your bare hands and a switched-on knowledge mindset. But as I mentioned earlier, the items in your BOB are the lotion to transition. What you prepare now will make it easier for when, and if, you need it.
First, let’s start with the bag itself. In the military, I learnt through trial and error that equipment made by 5.11 is reliable for my uses. It still, to this day, has never failed me. One item I have always relied upon is my 72 Hour Rush Pack. It was designed by ex-special forces staff who customised their own packs for convenience. The result of those customizations is the 5.11 pack. It is durable and innovative with protective layers, pockets, compartments, strapping and is covered in molle application strapping so you can add things such as a first aid kit and an admin map panel on the outside of it.
You can find alternative options in cheaper backpacks, but you’re going to want something that lasts as you don’t know how long you will be on the move for and under what conditions your bag will be put through. A common issue with a lot of backpacks are the shoulder straps and backrests. If you are looking to do this without a purpose-built bag you need to find something with strong shoulder straps. There are options to reinforce your own backpack by using linked zip ties as a supportive method to ensure there are no tears in the bag’s supports when excess weight is applied. The other issue is the part of the pack that rests against the back, to hack your own version of this you can insert a tough rubber lining as support.
The budget of a bug out bag is up to you. You really don’t have to spend too much to have a complete bag. I think primarily you should be spending the bulk of your budget on the bag, the shelter, and a functioning multi-tool. The rest you can pick up variations of at different places, or you may already have it at home.
For the different budgets out there I will list the essentials first and the more expensive additions after that.
So carrying this stuff every day isn’t ideal, I get that. But you are going to want to keep it close for when the sh-t hits the fan. But what about when you are walking around the city, or what would you keep in your side pocket so you’re not reaching into your go bag every single moment you need something?
While some of these items might be already in your bug out bag and may be doubling up, they are here because this is the sort of bag I use when I go to work, or when I am away from the car where I generally leave my bug out bag. Because it is much smaller, I keep this in a Maxpedition Pocket Organizer.
This is what’s in my every day carry bag:
This is often something that is regularly forgotten in many bug out bags but is just as important as most survival goods because it is proof of ownership, identity, and insurance. Having this paperwork with you will be a godsend in times of disasters or emergencies where your home and contents may be at risk, so make sure you make copies of all of those documents.
The following is a list of document copies I keep in my bug out bag:
I have chosen not to list self-defense items as that deserves another post in its own right. For the purpose and completeness of this post, the survival knife which I referred to before is a back-up method of self-defense. Obviously a knife is not as good as a gun or bow, however, the idea of the bug out bag is to get out of an area as quickly as possible. If you’re fighting your way out, you are not doing a ‘bug out’ per se but a fighting withdrawal.
I have tried to include extra items that I sometimes don’t carry just for the sake of completeness of a whole kit. I am very interested to hear of any other items that any of you might recommend. If you do have something that is a staple addition to a bug out bag or an innovative idea, leave a comment below.
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