November 8, 2009

Preparation for the End of the World, Part 3: The Bug Out Bag

The Bug out Bag

Ahhh, the good old packed away bug out bag, or B.O.B for short. This is by far my favorite part of survival preparation. If you are feeling lost on what a bug out bag is, I don’t blame you. When I first heard the term it didn’t necessarily click right away as to what it actually was either. Quite simply, it is a bag that is packed away full of items to help you survive for 3+ days away from your home. When you need to go, you might not have a single second to pack. This bag allows you to just “Grab n Go”.

Why would I need a bag to survive on for three days you may ask. If you ever end up displaced from your house, do you know where you would go? Do you have a location picked out that you could safely get to on foot if the need arises? If you don’t, you should. If disease, invasion, anarchy, air assault warfare, ZOMBIES! etc…. happen, then you need a safe place to go.

Basically, if shit hits the fan (SHTF), you need a plan.

Your plan should include several routes to and from your location of choice, both for a vehicle and on foot. Cars break down, have tires that pop, and only last so long with a low supply of gasoline. (Did I mention to always keep your gas tank as close to full at all times?) Your location should be somewhere safe. I.e. Grandma’s Cottage, property you own, a church, etc… Just so long as it is somewhere far enough away from the city, and somewhere that you would consider safe.

Now let’s break it down.

A bug out bag container can be anything from a hiking backpack to a sack on a stick. Obviously, the latter will not work nearly as well as the former. I use a 5,000 Cubic inch hiking backpack. It allows me to pack gear for at least a week’s survival on foot. It should ride comfortable and also be easily removed from your back. Regardless of the container, it is what you put inside that counts. If you end up with a small container and no room for more items and you own a dog, always consider the dogs working ability as well. They sell numerous types of container’s for dogs. My dog will always carry his own food and water to save space and weight on my rig.

Clothes for AT LEAST 3 days

To start, you are going to need at least 3 day’s worth of clothes and twice that of socks and underwear. Feet can get very wet depending on the weather and having dry socks is a must to keep your feet working properly. I have packed 6 pairs of thick tube socks. These are socks I normally wouldn’t wear on a daily basis, but they are great for warmth and overall comfort. Having extra underwear is self explanatory. Also, you have no idea what type of weather or even what time of year it will be when you will need this bag, so always pack for the worst. I keep long underwear and warm clothes in mine as well as a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

Rain Gear

You should also pack a good set of rain gear. This includes a top with some sort of a hood and a pair of rain pants. These can be the cheapos you can get at Meijer (Or Walmart for you non-midwest folks) for 9 bucks, or a nice set of Northface rain gear. Whatever you choose, make sure it is super light. Do not go out and buy a rain jacket with a super insulated thick liner in it. This will only cause you problems out in the field. It will weigh you down and take up a ton of space.

A good strong knife

If I was limited to just 1 item for outdoor survival, that item would be a knife. A knife has so many uses that it’s pointless to list them all. A knife can save your life, literally. I always carry a knife and most of the time I carry 2. I carry a sharp folding blade in my pocket and a self-defense Ka-Bar on my belt. I use my knife at least 3 times a day on average and sometimes more. Imagine how many times you would use it in a survival situation outside? Cutting limbs, rope, tape, self-defense, cutting your food, field-cleaning game, stripping bark, cutting fabric, etc..

There are so many types of knives to choose from. I mean, there are thousands of different shapes, sizes and styles. All you really are thinking for is something strong and sharp. Something that can withstand a beating and stays true to the actual function of having a blade is what you want. In my B.O.B. I have 3. My Ka-bar will always be on my belt so I would have 4 if the time came to bug out. I pack a nice sharp 3” auto assist folding blade, a long combat bowie blade with a thigh sheath, and a 4 inch long, very thick buck knife with a gut hook at the end.

In the world of purchasing a knife, your choices are endless. Everywhere from the mall to Walmart has them. I suggest going to a firearm’s dealer or sporting goods store. A gun and knife show can never hurt anyone as well. Plus, you will find killer deals at these shows. I got my 85 dollar Ka-bar with a sheath for 35 bucks at the Deltaplex Gun show.


All you need to know is pack a flashlight with a long straight white beam that has ready to go charged batteries. Surefire, Condor, Mag-lite, Eagle tac…. The list goes on. Pick your light of choice.

Rope/ 550 Cord

If you haven't heard of 550 cord (or parachute cord), here's a little snippet from :

"Parachute cord (also paracord or 550 cord) is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. Once in the field, paratroopers found this cord useful for many other tasks. It is now used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians. This versatile cord was even used by astronauts during STS-82, the second Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.[1]

The braided sheath has a high number of interwoven strands for its size, giving it a relatively smooth texture. The all nylon construction makes paracord fairly elastic; depending on the application this can be either an asset or a liability."

This being said. This cord is carried standard in the equipment of US Military personnel. 550 cord is STRONG, thin and reliable. It can be used for multiple applications when trying to survive. It can be woven to create a a multitude of tools. It can be used to set traps, repair equipment, and hang dry clothes. It is by far one of the most useful tools you will pack into your B.O.B.

Gas mask/ N45 filter mask

Now this is quite optional. I do NOT keep a gas mask in my B.O.B. but I do plan on purchasing a military grade hooded mask eventually. For now, I keep an N45 filter mask with replaceable cartridges. It is compact and lightweight and takes up little space in my bag. If there is ever a biological attack, this will not only save your life, but give you protection while you hoof it out of the gas radius. It will protect your lungs from gases, dust, odors, etc... When 9/11 happened, there was trillions of dust particles spread across almost all of Manhattan. People in their homes and in the street still suffer from lung problems from all the dust they breathed in that day.


You may find the need to camouflage yourself while on foot and camo paint is the best for this. Even a few darkened areas on your face can hide you at night time.


Now, land navigation is no joke, nor is it easy. In the military it took days to learn how to accurately navigate with a compass. There are many components involved but if you were without a compass then it is not possible to navigate correctly. You should pack a compass and a waterproof map to the safe area you have previously chosen to evacuate to.


Matches are pretty self explanatory but I will touch base slightly. Make sure you are packing strike anywhere matches and that you accurately waterproof them. An easy way to waterproof matches is to light a candle until you get a nice pool of wax around the wick. Take your matches and dip the sulfer tip end into the wax and then let them cool and harden on piece of wax paper. Then, seal them up in a waterproof container. If your waterproof container fails your wax will protect the sulfur head from being soaked with water.


Again, another self explanatory item. If you are evading an enemy, then being able to see at great distances will greatly improve your chances of evasion.


Another optional item. You will want a rechargeable crank radio with weather capabilities. We discussed this in a previous section as well.


I will keep stressing this throughout this series. BATTERIES, BATTERIES, BATTERIES. Batteries die, hands down. They drain more so in colder climates. Pack lots of batteries in waterproof containers.


Now I could write an entire section on weapons and ammo. What you carry, how you carry, and what you plan on bringing with you will all depend on the situation. Some situations a weapon may not even be necessary, however, keeping even a small pistol for self defense should be considered. My pistol will always be stored next to my bug out bag alongside my 12 gauge. IF the need arises, I will make a split second decision on what I would bring with me. You have to consider also how long you may be displaced. The need to hunt for your own food may arise, so even a nice rifle wouldn't hurt. You must also take into account the extra weight this will add to your rig.

Remember though, if ZOMBIES attack, you will want as much firepower and ammo as you can possibly grab. Not that that is a realistic expectation, but war and invasion certainly are. I plan on always standing ground and defending myself, my state and my country.

There are many other things that you should have in your bag. I will not describe them, but list them instead. Remember, your bag could be packed significantly different than someone else. Pick and choose for your area, weather, need, terrain, etc... Here's some other things you should consider:

COINS/PAPER MONEY (Pay phones, bartering, etc...)
FISHING KIT (Worms, Hooks, Weights, etc..)

In the end, just consider your needs and what you may need if the shit hits the fan. Whether you pack small and light, or large and heavy, just be smart about it.

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