We live in a world that is stretching farther and farther distance wise as the years go by. Think back 100 years ago, we all lived near a small town and our entire family lived on the same land. Nowadays the average commute to work in America is 26 miles, and many Americans outside of large metropolis cities travel twice that distance. With this being said, if a disaster were to happen, having a bug out bag, kit bag, get home bag or supply bag (whatever you want to call it) can make getting home much easier.
Bug Out Bags (BOBs) are always a hot topic for survivalists. Everybody wants to talk about grabbing their bag and heading out into the woods if the world goes apocalyptic.
But what about having a bag packed in case of an earthquake or rising flood waters that cause you to evacuate your house and enter a shelter. Or how about being stuck in your car on the interstate for days because of a freak winter storm? These are all scenarios that have happened in America in just the last three years.
Natural disasters are not the only reason to have a bag with you at all times. As protests and rallies seem to spiral out of control every day now, it is only a matter of time until innocent people are caught between looters and rioters.
Before we talk about how to pick out the perfect bag and what items to put in it, we have to look at how how to stage your bag.
Where to Keep Your Bag
Your bag is nothing more then a resupply station. It gives you the ability to stretch your survival timeframe, and provides you with more options than you can put in your pocket. Your bag should not be at home in a closet if you work 50 miles away, or are going on a vacation.
For most people, the best place to keep your bag is in your car. Your vehicle is never that far away from you. If you don’t room to put your bag in your vehicle, then think about keeping one at your office.
Your bag construction should begin by covering the four major categories of survival: shelter, water, fire, and food.
When talking about these items, people often refer to the Rule of Three. You can only survive for 3 hours in harsh weather conditions, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Fire helps with all three of these conditions. It can add warmth to your shelter, boil water to purify it, and cook food to keep you going.
After you have taken care of the four major survival sectors, you can add more items to your bag to help us with other situations you might come across. We will cover all of these sections in this course.
What Size Bag Do You Need?
A Bug Out Bag should always be built around a high quality bag. The last thing you want is for your bag to fail. We always suggest that you start with measuring out the items that you want to carry, then purchase a high quality bag big enough to hold those items.
Too often, people buy the bag first, then just keep filling it until it is full…resulting in a bag that is much heavier than it should be.
Now determine how far you are going to need to travel to get to your safe location. There is a big difference in the gear and supplies needed for a 200 mile trek as compared to a 25 mile walk. This will help determine the size bag you need, as well as what needs to go in it.
Also think about the region and season that you are living in. What someone might carry in the southwest can be far different then a person residing in the northeast. Winter time demands much more warm weather clothing than summer.
Types of Bags & Accessories
There are many different types of bags you can choose from. Sling packs are great as small lightweight bags, but having two shoulder straps is usually the way to go. You can use a sling bag or a duffle bag as your main option, but they can become very uncomfortable once you get over 15 to 20 pounds of gear. Most sling bags are cut to be worn over your right shoulder, which over time can get tiring as well.
It’s always beneficial to not stick out in the crowd in a survival situation. It’s helpful if your bag blends in as much as possible with your surroundings. Having a bag that looks like a tactical military rig can make make you stand out and be more of a target. Molle straps are super useful for lashing items to, but really stand out in an erban environment.
When looking for a backpack there are three major features you want to have:
- First you want to find a pack with nicely padded shoulder straps to help your shoulders on a long hike. Thin straps can start to feel like razors digging into your shoulders, and you might find yourself dumping gear to get rid of weight.
- Hip belts allow you to take some of the weight off of your shoulders and transfer it to your lower body. Being able to shift the weight back and forth is makes a huge difference if you have to trek a long way.
- The last feature to look for is a sternum strap. Sternum straps help stabilize the load across your shoulders, and keep your bag from shifting around while you are moving.
You should look for bags that are made out of Cordura or a ripstop nylon material. Cordura is a tough material and will hold up to almost anything. Look for a bag in the 500-1000 denier Codura range.
Packing Your Bug Out Bag
How you pack your bug out bag is just as important as what bag you choose.
Don’t just throw all your gear in there haphazardly or you’ll never be able to find it when you need it.
First, always make sure you can get to your water easily. Water is be one item that every person will use regardless of the situation. A bag with a water bladder compartment is very common option, and can make carrying water easy. If you are a not a fan of drinking out of a hose and prefer a bottle instead, then make sure that your pack has water bottle holders that are easily accessible on the sides of the bag. You don’t want to have to constantly remove your pack to get to water. You’ll end up not drinking which can lead to dehydration.
After you have situated your water, positioning other items you will want to get to quickly or often. Medical and trauma gear should be located where you can get to them quickly and easily. Don’t pack any other items with your trauma kit. You want clear access to it in an emergency.
With your water and medical items packed in your bag it’s time to put the rest of your gear in layers according to how often you will use them.
- Bottom – good for bulky gear and items not needed until camp.
- Middle – good for your denser, heavier items.
- Top – good for bulkier essentials you might need on the trail.
- Accessory pockets – ood for essentials you’ll need urgently or often.
- Tool loops, lash-on points, and Molle – good for oversized or overly long items.
You’ll want to read this article from the REI website on packing your bag for more tips.