Hows And Whys Of The Bug Out Bag
When they talk about rising water….get out….take what you can and get out.
A survivor from the Midwest flooding in March 2019
I have come to question myself on just how prepared am I to get out?
If a Cat 2 hurricane is on its way to my neighborhood and unexpectedly increases in strength to a Cat 4 or 5 do I stay, or risk my life and that of my family and try to ride it out?
You need to have an understanding of exactly what you should take with you and what to leave behind with no hesitation at the last moment.
Hesitations can lead to dire consequences, so it is best to do your homework on this subject now.
Before you have to ‘get out.’
Bug Out Bag Basics
With all the rather nasty weather and sudden fires and flooding going on, the Bug-out bag is the hot topic of a lot of questioning conversations these days, even within the government. This increasing awareness is good because a bug out bag is not just a great idea; your bug-out bag could save your life.
You never know when you will be faced with an emergency and have to evacuate your home. With a bug-out bag at the ready, you can leave with a moment’s notice, and be sure that you have everything you need to survive.
That doesn’t mean that a bug out bag has everything you might want in it.
There is no time or space for fancy clothing and wall hangings.
We’re not talking about packing a suitcase for a weekend vacation, but rather preparing something that will be available for use in an emergency situation. For a bug-out bag to be effective, it needs to be focused on survival, nothing else.
The biggest problem is deciding on what is absolutely necessary to put into your bug-out bag. If you simply start listing all the items you might want to take in the case of an emergency, you’ll end up with a huge load.
You’ve got to make sure that you have the most important bug out bag contents. Then, if you have room left over, you can think about extras.
Starting the Bug Out Bag List:
17 items of the very basics
Food. A bug-out bag is supposed to have everything you need to survive for at least three days; so it needs at least 72 hours’ worth of food in it. Avoid cans, focusing instead on dried foods, which are lighter and easier to carry.
Water. You’ll want some water in your bug-out bag, but there’s really no way that you can carry enough.
Water Purification. Since carrying fresh water is burdensome, make sure that you have some means of water purification with you. Better yet, pack two means of water purification.
Canteen or Water Bottle. When you can find water, you not only want to drink up but fill up your canteen so that you have water to take with you.
Backpacking Cookware. If any of the food you are taking with you needs to be cooked, you’ll want to have something to prepare it in. Backpacking cookware is made of aluminum or magnesium to make it lightweight.
Fire Starters. This is another essential that you want more than one of. A butane lighter and some waterproof matches will work great. If you know how to use it, throw in a metal match as well.
Backpacking Tent or Tarp. When you need temporary shelter as you are getting away, a lightweight tent made for backpacking is ideal. If you don’t have a tent, take a tarp with you. You can make some great shelters out of a tarp and some cord.
Parachute Cord. A rope is one of those universal survival items; there’s so much you can do with it. Parachute cord often called paracord or 550 cord, is thin, lightweight and incredibly strong. It is the ideal survival rope.
Knife. The knife is probably the most important piece of survival equipment. Make sure you get a good one that will hold an edge. A fixed-blade knife with a full tang is best as it will survive the most severe use.
Hatchet/Hammer. A hatchet is great for cutting firewood when you are out in the woods. Get a combination tool with a hammer head on the other side so you can also use it to drive tent pegs into the ground.
Documents. Since a bug-out bag is supposed to be for any emergency, make sure it contains copies of important documents. This can be done by scanning them and storing the files on a flash drive. That way, you’re not carrying five pounds of paper around with you.
Compass and Maps. If you have to leave home, you’re going to have to find your way to someplace where you can stay and hunker down. You should have both road maps and topographical maps of your area and the area where you are going. In case you have to leave your planned route, a map will make that much easier.
Rain Poncho. Rain has a habit of appearing at the worst possible time. A poncho will help keep you from getting soaked to the skin. It can also double as a ground sheet when you are sleeping, or a way to carry extra items you come across that don’t fit in the bag.
Clothes. While you won’t have the room to take a bunch of clothes with you, you should have at least one change of rugged clothes in your bug-out bag.
Soap and Toothpaste. Personal hygiene is important for maintaining your health. Make yourself a little kit with soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and other items in it to help you keep clean.
Fishing Gear. Your survival food will run out eventually. Being able to catch a few fish along the way can make your food last longer. An emergency fishing kit doesn’t need to take up much room or add much weight, but with it, you can feed yourself indefinitely.
Weapon. The world is full of predators, both four-legged and two-legged. Disasters seem to make both types come out of the woodwork. Escaping the disaster merely to find yourself killed by a hungry attacker isn’t exactly the ending you’re after. Think about defending yourself.
Common Sense Bug Out Bag Items
Your bug-out bag should be prepared based upon your personal circumstances.
Keep in mind what the weather is like where you are. If it is cold, add warm clothes. If it is arid, you’ll want more water. It has to meet your needs, not fit someone else’s idea of a best-case scenario.
It’s also important to know how to use everything in your bug-out bag. Don’t bother carrying along a fancy piece of survival equipment just because someone recommended it.
If you try to carry everything that survivalists recommend, you’re going to have a very heavy pack. Before you bother bringing any item along, make sure you can and will use it.
Bug Out Bag Quality And Costs
The main idea behind a bug out bag is to give you enough equipment and supplies to last for at least three days.
You can at the very least have a rather large one of those plastic storage containers you can buy at a big box store for about $15 and keep it ready in the corner of your garage or basement.
Or you can use a small carry on type luggage case with wheels.
However, they will be cumbersome to carry around with you if you can not use your car.
You should have something a little more portable with ease of carrying.
I shopped bags designed especially for bug out situations and could not believe the price range of these things.
From $60 to several thousand dollars. Yikes!
Now granted when you go searching or google ‘bug out bag’ you are for the most part going to see bags already supplied with some of the basics.
What makes some of them so pricey?
This pre-packed bug out bag, for the most part, come in a high-quality backpack or equipment case with enough for a three-day ordeal. Including food and water.
It is the equipment that will drive up the cost. Quality survival equipment is not cheap. A good knife may run in excess of $100.
The weight of the bag is another concern when setting these things up and to help in that, ultra lightweight is the go-to product.
When you start getting tent pegs and pots made out of titanium to save weight……you get the idea.
I am not saying this is a bad option if you have the money and want to save some time, go for it. Price aside they are excellent in that they will cover all the bases in survival supplies and equipment:
- Food gathering
- Purified water
- Water purifier-mechanical
- Water purifier-chemical
- Fire starters
- Survival tools
- Light sources
- First-aid kit
- Personal hygiene items
- Communication devices
- Survival guides and manuals
That is a lot of stuff and for the most part, high-quality stuff. These pre-made bug out bags do it well and how they do it and with what will determine the cost.
Build Your Own Bug Out Bag
In my opinion, some of those pre-made kits are a little on the overkill side of common sense.
Those companies providing them are not ripping you off, they are actually giving you a good deal for the equipment you are getting especially when you consider the ease of ‘having it all.’
You do not have to do it all today.
A little at a time.
Acquire a comfortable carrying vessel* and with a common sense listing, start putting things into it that you know will be needed.
Don’t wait for the last minute.
The flood waters will not wait for you.
And as a final thought, keep in mind the only thing that keeps these expensive kits from being enough to survive for months in the wilderness is having enough food and a few other consumables.
That’s why I believe someone with the right survival skills could live off them. They would have to be able to come up with food from the land.
*Do not buy that bag first, we will tell you why in the next section.
Bug Out Bag Preparation Mistakes
Can you run into problems when putting together that bug out bag?
Yes, you can and they can be major.
I will give you some tips here:
- It does not make sense to go out and buy that bag first and then try to put your purchased items in them. Your first job is to determine what you are going to need and how you need to organize and carry them. You do not need to overspend on something too large or worse, not large enough. Sounds simple enough, but you would be surprised.
- How much weight is too much for you? If you are like most people, you might see some ‘extra’ room and decide to fill it up. Think first of what you are doing to the weight of that thing you might have to carry for some time.
- Two things about water. (1)It is most likely the heaviest thing you are going to want to put in that bag. (2)Don’t forget the water. It happens. Big mistake. Just keep an eye on the weight and make sure you have some water purification options in that bag.
- Flashlights are an important part of a bug out bag. Make sure they have working batteries.
- A bug out bag should be ready. Now. Not at the last minute. When the bad weather is just hours away, the fire down the street, or the rising waters lapping at your front door, it is too late. You are going to be in a frenzied rush to everything in that bag all in the last minutes. You will forget things and in all likely hood leave some important items out because you can not find them or you just forgot during the chaos.
It is not complicated, nor it should be. Just use some common sense and be ready before the calamity strikes.
Know where you live, know the potential risks, be aware of your situation.
You will be fine.
Around The Web:
The primary purpose of a bug-out bag is to allow one to evacuate quickly if a disaster should strike. It is therefore prudent to gather into a single place all of the materials and supplies that might be required to do this, such as a bag or a few storage containers. The recommendation that a bug-out bag contains enough supplies for 72 hours arises from advice from organizations responsible for disaster relief and management that it may take them up to 72 hours to reach people affected……..read on…..
Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst Tool
The Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst is an ArcGIS extension that estimates how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a hazardous area…..read on…..