Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bug Out Bag: Packing Your Bag

Bug out bags (BOB) are all the rage! You can buy one fully loaded (inferior in my opinion) for $500 bucks! Or you can come to your senses, build a reasonable bag that suits you and your needs. Once you decide on the BOB that is right for you, how do you pack it?
I’ve given many classes and seminars on BOB’s. By exposure I have learned a thing or two about them. I am not an authority on them, but I have a lot of experience with them. I’ve also been a backpacker from childhood and have taught many a Boy Scout how to pack a backpack.
Backpacking and bugging out are definitely two different activities. I want to first mention how I teach building BOB’s. I talk about SWB or size, weight, and bulk. To me weight is everything when building a BOB or backpacking. I like to use items that have multiple uses. Remember what a BOB is for. It is to sustain life for a period of about 3 days. Within those 3 days you should be able to get to a destination, or return home, to other ways to sustain life. Whether that is government help or the disaster ending. Remember that when building your kit. A BOB is not a U-haul. It is not a sea voyage trunk. I remember teaching a class on BOB’s at a church where the members were bringing in their bags and I was advising on their content. I didn’t want to do this because I believe a BOB is personal and should be molded to you and your family. They insisted that this is what they wanted me to do so I relented. What a nightmare. In one bag I started pulling out stuff that I could not believe the person actually wanted in their bag. I was trying to do it diplomatically but then finally I did it like a Drill Instructor in basic training. I dumped the entire contents on the table and threw the undesirable (and sometimes ridicules) items in a pile. They wouldn’t have taken that much junk on a week to Vegas! Everything in your bag should have a POU (philosophy of use).
Pack you BOB like you’re going to Everest.
Most heavy items should be closest to you and on the bottom.
Light stuff should be away from your back.
Most expedient need items on top, lesser used items on the bottom.
Balance should be maintained as best as possible. Also, depending on the situation is how you can determine the most needed items. If it’s all out war your self-defense items and first aid should be very handy. Usually first aid should be close to the top in any situation. As far as weight I would shoot for about 20 pounds although 40 pounds is about my limit. That can be difficult with water weight. Plan accordingly.
Bottom of the bag.
I put water that I will need a ways through my trip on the bottom with additional water up top. Water is the heaviest item I have and I want it low and as close to me as possible. My tent will be toward the bottom also. Spare clothing also goes toward the bottom. The bulk of my ammo goes on the bottom. What tools I carry may go toward the bottom if they have weight.
Middle of bag
Most of my food goes in the middle of the bag. Even though my food is extremely light it goes to the middle because I won’t need it right away. Cooking gear goes with the food. My hygiene kit goes toward the middle too. Tools go in the middle if they are relatively light weight.
Top of the bag
This is where the most used gear is kept. As I said before, first aid should be easily accessible. If not the top of the bag then a front or side pocket. Some water is also on top. My light kit goes on top too. My light kit contains a flashlight, a headlamp, my fire starting kit and any other item I have for light. A coat/windbreaker/rain gear will be on top depending on the weather. I also keep snacks or even a full meal on the top. If you don’t keep them in side or separate pockets, maps, compass, GPS, and toilet paper. I keep near the top or on the side emergency items such as emergency poncho or blanket, batteries, solar recharger. My water filter is on the top end too. Near the top or in the side I have a few filled magazines with a small amount of ammo. Other self- defense items are near the top or easily accessible. Pepper spray, my combat knife, and my Gurkha. My gun is either on me or on the outside of the pack.
Sides of bag
Other pockets will carry some of the top of the bag stuff. I personally keep my compass in a side pocket on a paracord tether. I don’t want to lose it or if it’s dropped it will remain with the bag. I also keep a knife and flashlight on a tether.
I have several carabineers and small bungee cords on my BOB. I want options for the location of certain items. I also want to be able to have alternate ways of securing items in and around my bag.
Almost everything is in zip lock bags. Many things I want to protect from weather others I want to protect the bag and other items in case they rupture or break.
I carry extra water bladders. If I find a good water source then I may want to really load up on water. I carry 2 full 64 oz bladders and then 2 spare empties. Usually the spares are in side pockets.
There are many misconceptions about a bug out bag. Some think that it’s more than survival. I believe the POU of a bug out bag is survival for about 3 days. If you felt you needed more you could built a bag that would extend that time to about 2 weeks but it would require more water, more food, and more clothing.
My bug out bag is what I call a phase 1 bag. This is 72 hours that can be extended to 1 week. I have a phase 2 bag in addition to my phase 1. This bag has extra food for another week. It also has an additional 2 gallons of water and an extra filter and bladders. I also have extra ammunition too. It has additional clothing for that extra week also. You can figure what else you might need to extend your phase 1. Batteries and first aid supplies may be what else you might want. You decide what would extend all your supplies to a total of 2 weeks survival. I have the phase 2 bags with the phase 1’s. They will attach to the phase 1. I would grab the phase 1 and 2 if I was bugging out in a vehicle. I also have a larger first aid kit I would grab in a vehicle. My first aid kits are built as level 1, level 2, and battalion. The battalion is a large chest kit on wheels.
Anyway, you get the idea. One last thing I should mention we carry in our bug out bags is a pocket survival kit. This kit is about the size of two Altoid tins together. If for some reason I lose the phase 1 and 2 bags, I have one last kit on me to survive. I’m not sure if that redundancy is necessary but there it is. I like options.
So if I were to bug out in my SUV I would have my phase 1 and 2 bags, the pocket survival kit, and the get home bag we keep in our vehicles. Each vehicle has at least 3 gallons of water which would bring us up to about 6 gallons. If I had time, I’d grab additional water jugs.
On each bag is a list of additional items and their location if time permits.
I’ve said it before, I don’t really want to bug out but to bug in. I am best prepared at home. If I must leave I want to leave in a vehicle but I am prepared to leave with just what I can carry and if I have to abandon that, I want to survive with what I have in pockets and on my belt.
I try to prepare for as much as I can and that’s why I have many kits. I’ve also been doing this since 1982 so don’t be overwhelmed by my preparation. Anyone can eat an elephant, you have to do it just one bite at a time. In other words, determine your needs and plan your bug out system around it. You may not feel you need more than just a backpack with some essentials. That is fine. I may be a little overly cautious. I’ve bugged out twice (1 a hurricane and 2 a wildfire) and been very close a few other times, so my paranoia may be kicking in.
Prepare a plan and then slowly put together your kit (s). This preparation gives me peace of mind.
Semper Paratus
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