Building The Ultimate Bug out Bag
Your bug out bag is your best friend in a survival scenario.
Being prepared can be the difference between life and death. However, you do not want to be too prepared!
It is very common to come across bug out bag lists that run into several pages. Having 75 or 100 items in your backpack is just not a practical option.A bug out bag should be fairly light and you should be able to carry it over long distances without getting too exhausted.
Here are some real world tips on building the ultimate bug out bag!
1) Invest in a really good backpack:
Backpacks are likely to undergo lots of abuse in a SHTF situation. They get thrown about; they get bruised while navigating through foliage and thorny bushes. Often they are overloaded, get wet, get exposed to the Sun, snow and rain.
If your backpack is poorly built – it will tear or the chain mechanism will fail and all the contents within will fall out or become exposed to the elements. So spend the extra few bucks on buying a premium backpack – it really is worth the expense.
2) Make arrangements for filtering water:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the US has the highest (per capita) water consumption in the world.
The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water every single day! One trillion gallons of water is wasted annually due to household leaks that are fairly easy to fix.
We take water for granted. We indulge in long showers and luxurious baths.
However, pure, drinkable water becomes a very precious commodity in a survival scenario! Without water, a person risks dehydration and death within just two days.
Hence, getting access to potable water should be at the top of your priority list. This is made easy by including a collapsible bottle and a water filtration system in your bug out bag.
Check out Lifestraw – their filters are highly efficient, light, compact, long lasting and affordable. They filter out 99.99% of the bacteria and parasites. Your bug out bag should also include filtering pills and other various methods of water filtration.
3) After water comes food:
Without food, you become weak and lose the ability to think rationally. It is not pragmatic to stock food supplies for a month in your back pack.
Still, you should definitely carry some high calorie foods such as chocolate, canned meats and fish, nuts, dried fruits, milk powder etc. Ready to eat meals or quick cooking meals (like noodles) are also a convenient (if not the healthiest) choice.
4) Fire Fire Fire!
Now that you have taken care of food and water, you need to worry about fire.
Fire has innumerable uses:
- It lights up the surroundings
- Provides warmth
- Scares away wild animals
- The smoke repels bugs and insects
Fire is also useful for cooking food, boiling water and quickly sterilizing first aid equipment (such as scissors, knife etc.).
Last but not the least, fire is an instantly recognizable rescue signal. Building fires in a survival scenario is not easy – conditions are often wet and dry wood may not always be available.
Hence, carry some water proof matches, a lighter and a magnesium fire starting kit. Carry a couple of old newspapers as well: they light up pretty quickly.
5) Shelter & Signalling for Rescue
Now that you have access to food, water and fire, you need to direct your energies towards building a shelter and/or signalling for rescue.
Your plan of action is situation specific:
- If you are fleeing a war zone, you need to keep a low profile and leave as soon as possible.
- However, if you are lost in the wilderness or are caught up in a natural disaster such as an earthquake, typhoon or flood, you need to signal for rescue immediately.
Flares and fires are excellent rescue signals. Keep handheld as well as shooting flares in your Bug out Bag.
If you are on a beach or in the desert, you can draw a huge SOS signal in the sand. You can also leave a trail by making arrow shapes in the direction of your movement.
You can build these shapes using stones, plastic bags, sticks etc. Carry a GPS and a map and compass for easy navigation. Finding shelter is easier in an urban environment. Build a makeshift shelter using sticks, branches, wood and plastic sheets if you are out in the wild.
6) First aid:
Injuries are fairly common during emergencies. You cannot heal broken bones and other severe illnesses. However, you can definitely mitigate damage and alleviate minor ailments through efficient first aid.
A first aid kit should include (at the minimum):
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Pain killers
- Insect (mosquito) repellent,
- Band aids
- Your daily medications (if any
- And a pair of medical scissors.
Make sure you learn about dealing with injuries, fires etc. It’s one thing to read about it, it’s another thing to practice what you learn and be TRULY prepared.
7) A knife, some rope and a multi-tool:
These are incredibly versatile. A knife also makes a very deadly weapon. You will need rope to make shelter and to tie things up. Usually, you should hang meat from a branch to prevent other animals from stealing it. And – my favorite – you can make a pretty bad ass spear using a knife, stick and some rope or paracord!
8) A firearm:
As an American citizen, you have the right to own a firearm and use it for self-defense. Your choice of weapon can range from a hunting rifle to a shotgun to a modest handgun. Whatever you choose, learn to handle it responsibly and safely.
You’re now equipped for almost any survival situation.
However, remember that your most important survival tool is knowledge. So learn as much as you can about survival techniques and practice them regularly.
Also, work on your fitness – survival becomes exponentially more difficult if you are carrying hundreds of pounds of extra weight or begin to breathe hard after climbing a flight of stairs.
P.S. Keep some ID (or at least photo copies) in your bug out bag. You never know when you might need it!
For more Reading on this subject, see our blog posts: