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Bug Out Bags?

I have written a number of articles in the past revolving around the prepared evacuation kit commonly referred to as a "Bug out" bag or a "Go bag". One of the more recent terms I've seen is the "Get Out Of Dodge" (GOOD) Bag. As I read more and more about the purpose of such bags - and the potential circumstances leading to their use - I am constantly adjusting what I feel I need to load into mine. So, this week's review is a simple "go over" of the basic contents and then some things I've been recently led to think about that are particular to different circumstances. For all of the law enforcement professionals who read this, remember: civilians who are evacuating from a given crisis area may be carrying any or all of these items or more. Never take for granted that they are only carrying survival necessities.

I used to endorse the idea of getting a bag that would hold what you needed and nothing bigger. Why? Because I was more concerned about not exhausting yourself while having the basics. Now, after reading and studying more, I've changed my outlook: get the absolute biggest pack you can manage - because you will fill it and still have to leave things out that you'd rather not.

Also, the Bugout Bag shouldn't be seen as the end-all be-all answer to escaping your situation. Your G.O.O.D. vehicle should be seen that way - and it should be preloaded with a few items (different article). The Bugout Bag should be seen as what you have to grab when your vehicle is disabled or out of gas and you have no choice but to leave it. THEN that Bugout bag better have everything in it you need to survive to reach your end destination. With that in mind, I'm going to rush through a few things everyone seems to agree is necessary and then a few things that I have always overlooked or never thought about.

The things everyone agrees on:

  • sleeping bag
  • jacket
  • gloves
  • poncho
  • small tarp (I say OR the poncho - don't see the need for both)
  • very basic first aid kit (bigger one in the vehicle)
  • fire starting material
  • multi-tool (should be on your belt, not in the bag - but preferences vary)
  • fixed blade knife (see note on multi-tool)
  • survival food (MREs or food bars)
  • clean, dry undies and socks
  • water - hydration built into the pack is good
  • flashlight(s) - and spare batteries
  • compass
  • maps as necessary

Now, for some of the things that are particular or I've left out in the past:

Firearms: if you can legally carry them. Then again, if the society goes to hell in a big enough hand-basket, I'm not sure there will be THAT many people who CARE whether or not they're legally carrying those guns. It may end up being one of those better tried by twelve than carried by six moments.

Legal documents: This can include so much but many focus on financial papers and specific documents like birth certificates, high school diplomas, etc. If you're loading this in a GOOD vehicle, then putting it in a hand-carriable fire safe might not be a bad idea. If it's going into your Bugout Bag, make sure all paper documents are sealed in water-tight bags. You should count on the Bugout Bag and you getting wet. If nothing else, the bag will get wet with your sweat. Make sure the documents are protected.

cash and coins: Since one of the major scenarios for societal collapse is hyper-inflation, you'd have to carry a pretty decent amount of cash to make it worthwhile. Still, better to have some and not need it than to need it and not have it. Even if, after any collapse, the power grids go down, some of the pay phones may still work (the phone structures have hardwire power built in and backup power supplies for many of the hubs. It won't last forever but maybe for a few days). The coins (specifically quarters) would be good to have for making phone calls. I don't know that I'd put a LOT of rolls of quarters in my bag - they're kinda heavy. Still, one or two rolls won't kill you.

Solar Charger Mat: Look around and you can find one of these sufficiently sized to recharge a cell phone or a set of batteries. I've become a fan of AA-powered LED lights using rechargeable AA batteries. The sun is a wonderously overlooked source of energy none of us can afford to ignore in a survival situation. The portable mat chargers are neither big nor heavy so get two. Add them to your kit. Get two more to put in your GOOD vehicle. Having the ability to recharge batteries will enable you to carry and reasonably expect to use such convenient devices as:

  • Kestrel weather tracker
  • GPS unit
  • Cell phone (if power grid stays up)
  • flash lights

Water Purification: You can't expect the water in your hydration pack or canteens to last forever. Eventually, especially if you're on foot, you will have to find a source of potable water. Even if you THINK it's pure, you need to be safe. Water purification tablets are one option. UV Light treatment, such as from the Hydrophoton Steri-PEN, are another. Yes, you can always purify water by heating it up but that means you need to make sure you have a pot or metal pitcher (coffee pot type) in your Bugout Bag. The Steri-PEN or a small filter are far lighter and more compact. Be careful with the compact filters though - they DO have a limit on how much water they can filter.

So, those are my '09 updates. I hope you found them useful. Please forward or share any ideas you have beyond them.

Stay Safe!