7 Steps to Building Your First Bug Out Bag

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Whether in the event of natural disaster or an invasion, city-wide dangers or anarchy, there are many uses and times in which a bug out bag’s existence and necessity may very well become a reality.

A very familiar element to those that have volunteered alongside of or worked in the military, terms like “go bag” is a common name used, or “overnight bag” which we identify the BOB bag as in the Air Force. However, this is of course designed to be much more than just an “overnight bag” in most instances – while the name may not allude to such.

In this article, we will cover a range of topics and key focus areas for building your first bug out bag, which based on field experience, knowledge, and hobby-like interest combined with a DIY attitude will cover the following topics:

  • Observation of the environment
  • Health hygiene review and modifications, preparations
  • Signals and communications
  • Visualization and planning
  • Movement and cover, evasion and distress
  • Recovery and repair
  • Creation, and angling for long-term survival as-needed

To understand how to build the most efficient, meaningful, light-weight, productive, and effective bug out bag (BOB) it is first critical to know how your settings or environment, personal strengths and weaknesses, environmental changes, and how they interact with the situation. This is the most practical approach to maximize both survival and application of your bug-out-bag.

(1) Observing and understanding your environment:

To get the most out of your bug out bag (BOB) it is worth investing substantial time, consideration, efforts and even funding in choosing the most durable, efficient, lightweight, practical backpack for your last-minute adventures or escape!

However, depending on the nature of your potential scenario may it be a natural disaster or possible foreign invasion, zombie apocalypse or total anarchy, choosing one of the following backpack types for your B.O.B. makes sense!

  • A Kevlar-made bag for resilience, durability, and reliability which will keep you and your belongings safe.
  • A premium grade backpack with high-ratings, reliability, and trust from military agencies that optionally will include a BALLISTIC SHIELD is also preferable, as seen with those bags made to include Tuffy Packs ballistic shield.
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  • An assault pack style backpack, or Mojo Tactical for those fonder of the over-the-shoulder design, an item like the KIFARU EMR II for the long-distance journey and escape, or survival in the wilderness.
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Consider the importance of lightweight solutions for your Bug Out Bag, and research which of these models make the most sense for you, your strengths, personality, and priorities with packing and preparing your bag.

Also, consider the importance of getting a nature-colored bag for both camouflage to protect yourself from predators, and also to prevent or avoid unnecessary and unwanted attention. Depending on where you live, different variations of materials make sense more than others per the regular or average temperature, and typically expected maximum highs and lows of the environments which you’ll be traveling or living in.

To make the most of your ability to observe and report your environment to yourself, loved ones, or authorities make sure you pack the following critical items:

  • Reliable, durable binoculars that are lightweight in design and prepared for the outdoors
  • A compass for direction and measuring distance
  • Durable, reliable waterproof work-shoes or work-boots that are durable but not uncomfortably heavy for long-distance trekking and prevention of injury stainless steel highly recommended and cleats are an option
  • A pair of trusted clear eyewear protection for visibility and eye injury prevention both during the daytime and night time
  • UV proof sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunrays during the day
  • A small, waterproof notebook to record movements, observations, goals, and to leave behind notes or other measures of communicating with emergency personnel or friends and family
  • Fluorescent bodywear ranging from gloves to shirt, hat, or pants, which can be altered or used at different points during your journey to communicate different signals or even use as a flag for gaining attention at some point

This list is extensive, but not conclusive. Also consider the sort of environment, dangers, and expectations you have for your journey this way you can make the best decision with what backpack design, model, weight, capacity, style, and features make the most sense.

(2) Health Hygiene Review – Body Care and Repairs

From duct-tape to tampons, we have compiled a list that makes sense and is sure to be useful when it comes to maintaining the necessary health hygiene, “body repairs,” maintenance (like refueling), and both preventing as well as treating sickness and illness.

Every bug-out bag at a minimum should have a reliable roll of industrial-grade duct tape. From small injuries to severe gashes, broken or disconnected limbs and more, duct-tape has been trusted in the field by soldiers at home and abroad for decades.

Hand sanitizer, a basic medical kit, iodine for destroying bacteria and preventing infection, medical gauze for stopping bleeding or promoting clotting, Q-tips, and even a small package of tampons will go all the way in helping you to prepare for nearly any essential to medium-level injury and beyond. Gel energy packs, salt, water filters, a natural water purifier, and pan, bottle, cup, tweezers, and small necessary splints are also a MUST! Also, consider investing in water filtration tabs to filter and consume water while on the go quickly.

Also, do NOT forget necessary vitamin packs or powders to lighten your load, surgical or a RESPRO allergy mask to preserve and protect your face, lungs, the air you are breathing in, and breathing back out. It is not necessary to purchase and pack a gas-mask or other sophisticated survivalist masks because fitting and carrying one will be a severe inconvenience, weigh you down, and likely deplete both space and time in your bug-out bag!

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(3) Signaling and Communications – Equipment Preparation

It is critical you find yourself at any times able to effectively signal for help, “friendlies,” and also identify others, which is why reliable, efficient, and practical signalizing and communications equipment is a MUST.

Pack your next Bug Out Bag with the necessary light sticks to show your position or lead the way through dark roads and brush; any brand will do barring it has good reviews and is reliable. This should not cost you more than around $10.00 for a pack.

Also, consider adding the following signaling and communications equipment to your bug-out bag:

  • Hand-crank flashlight for constant reliability for lighting the way
  • LED headlamp to light the path in front of you with adjustable settings
  • Solar powered LED flashlight
  • Hand-crank LED flashlight
  • Tinderbox for manually fire-starting when necessary
  • Matches as a backup resource
  • Fire-safe and waterproof lighters to both preserve and create fire at most critical times or weather
  • Firestarter kit

DO NOT neglect the following critical hygiene items:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste with cases for each to keep dirt out
  • Soap bars that are well packaged

It is critical that you keep your teeth, ears, and mouth as clean as possible wild adventuring in the wild or on the road for days or more at a time. This is because bacteria grows most frequently and enters the body in these places, and can pose a severe threat to your immune system which in turn risks you become weaker, unable to function competently, lethargy, a lack of energy, and an inability to focus as well as other common flu and virus symptoms.

An essential Morse-code guide is also suggested, for communicating with other emergency personnel and military as needed.

A FLINTSTRIKE fire-starter kit like the one below is recommended, convenient, practical, and lightweight for your BOB:

(4) Visualization and Planning – Tactical Tools and Supplies

To increase your chances for survival, both planning a route to your destination, the progress you’ve made, and being able to visualize where you are and where you’re going adequately are critical to making the most of your survival in the wild, during a national emergency, or total anarchy! So, do not take this opportunity and advice lightly, and only go with the most reliable, durable, trusted tools and equipment for this section when creating your BOB:

  • Reliable, lightweight binoculars (night vision preferred but costly)
  • A basic notepad, pencils, and a pencil sharpener
  • Local and county maps, districts, and state-wide maps
  • Emergency GPS signaling device
  • Trusted outdoors GPS device

The GARMIN eTrex 20x is a good, affordable and efficient GPS tracking system, but the eTrex ten will also do just fine, and both are lightweight, reliable, and very durable.

(5) Movement and cover, communications and evasion

From equipment to clothing, charges, traps, bungees and more

Pack your BOB with a waterproof raincoat, rain pants, lightweight and preferably foldable rain-boots or covers. Also be sure to pack a waterproof hat, and some of the other following items to preserve your strength, health, agility, and speed:

-Fluorescent gloves and vest for both signaling and being seen as-needed

-2 Bandanas which have a wide range of multi-purpose that are sure to come in handy including for first-aid

-A sewing kit for easy repairs and modifications to clothing and armor or equipment, and if you have enough space, perhaps a small hacksaw as well.

-Kevlar gloves for fast, safe, and active movement through dense brush, rough environments, and terrains

-At least two pairs or waterproof socks so that one may be used while the other dried in the sun before the next use. QUIK-DRY brand highly recommended, especially for cloudy or cold days that make it difficult for clothing to dry.

These waterproof, durable, sports-styled socks are the perfect choice for anyone serious about keeping warm and dry – because without dry socks injuries, rashes, and pain are certain.

EXTRA TIP: An EMERGENCY RADIO is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (Solar Power is your best bet) so finding and adding a lightweight, compact emergency radio can make all the difference in your chances of survival, and identifying to reach your objective.

This EMERGENCY WEATHER SOLAR CRANK RADIO is a good choice, but there are many options available online:

(6) Recover, repair, and create!

Industrial tools, building, demolitions, self-repair and equipment repairs

Maximize your strength, building and survival abilities, and preserve energy where possible by packing the following must-have items and supplies into your bug-out bag:

  • Multipurpose knife for fitting, cutting, preparing food, and first aid
  • Nylon Rope for climbing, grappling, and evasion – also consider investing in a reliable and durable 550 Parachute Cord (50?)
  • Multipurpose multitool for stretching, cutting, and repairing survival materials
  • Zip ties
  • Fishing Line

– A Versatile AXE for preparing food, chopping wood, and creating shelter

A multipurpose camping ax like the one below will mean between life and death when it comes to preparing firewood, cooking, hunting, and even defending yourself.

The added tools and versatility of a screwdriver, combined with duct tape, zip ties, and a plastic tarp will work miracles when it comes to making a water-proof shelter that’s likely to keep you warm and alive at night – and safe from PESTS and PREDATORS!

(7) Resistance and Survival, Existence and Maneuverability

Self Defense and Enhancing Speed

To protect yourself and your assets are sure to invest in the following items, tools, or multi-use weapons that will promote resistance, survival, and maneuverability!

-A durable, static and waterproof tarp to quickly set up a fort or tent soon in all weather and climates

-Bug spray and repellent to protect yourself and prevent serious infections or illness and diseases

-Pepper spray as a choice non-lethal weapon to defend yourself against bears, and other dangerous animals or persons. This is a compact solution and most practical for a bug-out bag but does not exclude the possibility of carrying a handgun and ammunition if possible.

Remember…

Observe, Signal, Visualize, Move, Cover, Escape, Recover, Repair, Create, and Survive!

NOTE: THIS WAS A GUEST POST

The Bronc Box: Durable Gear Storage

This guy always seems to come up with neat new gear, and the bronc box is no exception. If you’re looking for a very durable, modular storage option for your weapons and gear, this box may be just the thing. They say it’s “build like a tank,” floats, can be customized, comes in different colors, and more…

Live Near Water But Not Sure Where To Evacuate To? Try This…

How To Evacuate Near Water

The recent flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey got me to thinking about flooding where I live because, after all, we live very near the water’s edge along the Puget Sound. And, while we’re likely high enough that any minor flooding wouldn’t be a problem… what if something BIG happened? Where would we go?

Well, as planning would have it, I do have evacuation routes to get us well away from the area but I’ve come to realize that some of those involve driving (or maybe walking) very near likely flood-prone areas which obviously wouldn’t work out too well if the flooding occurred in relatively short order.

The other major problem I had with planning a quick evacuation due to flooding is that we’re surrounded by tall trees which makes it a bit more difficult to merely step out of my front door, take a gander, and decide which way is uphill. Where we used to live in Missouri it was no problem to look for miles on end in any direction… here that just isn’t possible.

So, I did what any good under-the-age-of-80 person would do: I turned to Google Maps. And, as it turns out, they have a handy little terrain feature which shows contour lines and elevation.

Just go to Google Maps, click the “Menu” button on the top left corner of the screen, and select “Terrain.” The map will transform into something resembling a topographical map with a bit shading denoting elevation and a few contour lines. Yes, there’s plenty still to be desired but it’s better than nothing.

What I don’t like about the Terrain feature of Google Maps is that if you either zoom too far in or too far out the contour lines and elevation markers disappear which makes it a tad difficult to use but still easy enough that I can look at where I live and figure out fairly quickly where I can go to get to higher ground in a few minutes drive… and I actually wouldn’t have thought about the particular spot I have in mind.

Anyway, I tried a few other interactive maps such as elevationmap.net which might actually be a better tool because it seems to include the same information as Google Maps but with the added benefit that you can click on a specific point on the map and click “Get informations” (yes, I spelled that correctly according to the tool) and you’ll see an altitude shown whereas Google Maps doesn’t seem to do so.

Last, if you’d like to see a more traditional interactive topographic map then try US Topo Map tool. Click on “Download Maps” on the left sidebar then you can search for your address, for example, and you’ll get a good map to make use of with contour lines, elevation, and more. The best part is that it’s all overlaid with streets so you can plan a route easily.

Hope this helps you figure out where best to evacuate to if flooding is a concern for you. Stay safe out there. 🙂

Mayor Right Not To Order Evacuation?

Hurricane Harvey Flooding Houston, Image Credit

Honestly, I haven’t been paying much attention of the Houston hurricane except to occasionally view a few photos of the aftermath and to keep up with how rescue and recovery efforts are going. I do hope these folks stay safe.

Anyway, I recently read an article in The New York Times with a similar title as this blog post (guess where I got the idea from) because it caught my eye. “Right NOT to evacuate,” I thought. Really?

After all, it seems to me that THE right action here would be to evacuate from an obviously dangerous situation, especially when you have time to do so, however, the author of the article asserts that:

“It is logistically impossible to evacuate millions of people from low-lying coastal areas ahead of a major hurricane. The disastrous evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 proved the case.”

Sure, evacuating millions sounds like an impossible task for government officials anywhere even with days to plan for and execute it. And, besides, many folks are going to ignore the call to evacuate because that’s just human nature and likely because they’ve “been there and done that” before and found nothing bad happened to them or their homes when they did heed the call.

Looking only at the numbers from previous orders to evacuate there’s something to said for not calling for mass evacuation; the author goes on to state that:

“In total, some 130 people died in that [Hurricane Rita] evacuation, more than have ever perished in a hurricane in the state’s history, with the exception of the 1900 Galveston storm. Of those deaths, about half occurred before the storm hit Texas.”

Hmmm… that does make a compelling case for not evacuating, and if we measure success of calling for evacuation or not in death toll numbers (which currently stands at 14 as of this writing) then odds are that not ordering mass evacuation was the right move:

“While we do not have any hard numbers yet, my guess is that we will eventually learn that something less than 10 percent of the homes in the Houston region have been flooded by this storm. Had a general evacuation been called, 90 percent of the people would have evacuated for no reason.”

Ok, no reason to sound the alarm bells if we don’t need to. That said, maybe something more could have been done to ONLY evacuate folks expected to be directly affected by storm surge? Perhaps authorities did so and I’m just not aware of it.

Regardless, even if authorities don’t order mass evacuation there’s no reason for individuals and families to stay put if they have the means and ability to evacuate… we know for sure they would have had the warning time to do so, at least with respect to most hurricanes.

Of course, if I’d lived in a hurricane-prone area most of my life I would probably be quite hesitant to leave for a variety of reasons.

What would you have done? Stayed put and hoped for the best or high-tailed it out of there?

There is one wildcard here and that’s the flooding caused by rainfall which is difficult to predict yet still very dangerous:

“We can predict with reasonable accuracy what areas will be flooded by storm surge based on the forecast and elevations. But flooding from rainfall is highly unpredictable and variable based on the dynamics of each particular rain event. Rarely will we know days in advance which areas will be flooded.”

And this is where it gets dicey, in my opinion, to stay put. Even if authorities can reasonably predict where storm surge will flood, they can’t do so with flooding from rainfall. So, why stay put and take the chance?

Besides, even if you didn’t perish directly from the storm you could be putting rescue workers in greater peril trying to rescue you when they didn’t need to OR you could be taking away their time and efforts from someone else who really does need their help.

My advice: during the next hurricane go visit your in-laws whom you’ve been telling you’re going to come visit for the past ten years now but something always seems to come up last minute so you have to cancel the trip, lol.

FYI, here’s another good article on Why Hurricane Harvey became so extreme that was a good read if interested.