Bug Out Bag: The Beginning…

I regularly listen to Eric Shelton over at the Handgun Podcast. A while back he started talking about “Bug Out” bags. This is something I’ve long been meaning to prepare. For those unfamiliar with the concept. A bug out bag is designed to have a minimum of everything you might need for 3 or more days and the means to get you started for a more prolonged event.

While useful for the Zombiepocalypse. The bag has more basic and realistic function for a variety of situations. A good example is Hurricane Katrina or the fires of California a few years back. Let’s say you were in a similar situation where you needed to evacuate your premises.  What do you take? What do you need? What do you grab in order sustain you for the next few days? weeks? Especially, if the situation doesn’t allow for simply driving several hours and dropping your VISA card at Motel 6. What do you do?

If you’ve waited until the event to happen, than it’s probably too late. That’s where the “Bug Out” bags come in. This is a bag (can be a duffle, a back pack, a sea bag, you name it)…for which you have pre-thought and prepared ahead of time for such situation.  Everyone will have to decide for themselves what they will need in their “go bag”.  And it’s different for everyone and very different depending on where you live.  Everyone should include some light but high caloric/nutrient rich food and hydration (H2O, etc). But if you live in Arizona you are going to want a lot more H2O than myself, who lives in Pennsylvania where there is a fair amount of water.  I can probably find a water source and purify it, but such may not be possible for those in a desert climate.

Likewise, I have a family of 3 plus a 4th one on the way.  What I will need in a “go bag” will probably differ from what a single bachelor or bachelorette might need. (Oh yeah, a gals bag will most likely have some supplies that a guys bag will not.)

So there is no right or wrong way, to put together you go bag.  In fact, many advocate a number of bags.  Starting with a small “get back home” bag. This would be a small bag that you’d carry with you at all time. Probably include a spare mag, a few crunchy granola or sports bars, some $$ and a bottle of water.  Perhaps even a small transistor radio.  The purpose of this bag is just to get you back home to your family or base of operations.

The second level is your “bug out bag”.  This should be a bag that you can carry and travel with on foot. How much you can pack into this bag will depend a lot upon your build, being in shape, etc.

My go bag will likely lean rather close to being a vehicle bag. I am using an surplus Navy sea bag. But I intend to have a ready trunk as well.  And might consider making my Kelty hiking pack into a lighter weight go bag.

A third that I support is a “vehicle bag” or “ready-trunk”.  This will be a large rather heavy bag or trunk. It will contain supplies to enable you to be self-sufficient for a period of time. Up to a few weeks. And hopefully long enough for you to find a safe area, construct suitable temporary shelter, and harvest your own food and water supplies. No one said it’d be comfy.


Now it is my hope that I would never be in a situation which would require me to rely upon these preparations. Frankly, doing so would entail me carrying a sea bag strapped to my back and a toddler strapped to my front. While my wife would be carrying a Kelty frame pack on her back and a second infant on her front.  Um….no way to travel. Not unless you REAAALLLY had to!

So what’s going in side my “bug out bag”?

Well first off, let me make the caveat statement that my bag is very much a work in process. And I really have only started to assemble it.  So here’s what I have so far….

Bug Out 1

  • Tarp, just a small 6′ x 8′. Big enough to cover my family and protect us from the wind and elements.  (When paired with my old wool Army blanket. Not a bad combo.) ($5-$8)
  • Dynamo Powered Flashlight/ Radio (AM/FM/Weather/Shortwave Receiver) / USB Charger ($29)
  • Large Hot Hands for quick warmth. ($1-$2)
  • Fishing line & tackle. This provides a means to fish, or even spring a trap to catch something like a rabbit. The fishing twine can be equipped with a bell or two and used to make a perimeter around the camp. (Approx. $5)
  • Water tight storage container. My wife is working on our first aid kit. But this will be used to protect any medicines and other essentials that must be kept dry. (< $8
  • 9 hour slow burn candles. It’s often easier to light a candle and then light a fire. (< $2)
  • Lightstick (cold flameless long lasting light). [Actually I purchased this in order to attach a copy of our house key. I was given the following advice. If your home has been invaded and you’ve retreated to your safe room. It can be advantageous to have a house key attached to a glow stick. You dial 9-1-1 then toss the key and lightstick out the front window. This provides the police with an easy means to enter (ie: not having to break your door down, and confirms that you are in actual distress).  It also allows them potentially to sneak up quietly on your home invaders.]
  • Ozark Trail “Hobo Tool”: Okay one of the things on my list was silverare. I have packed a way one of those camp “fork, knife, spoon” that lock together. But this was such a cool setup.Hobo Tool

    It’s got a fork, a spoon, a knife as well as a cork screw, bottle/can opener. While it’s cheap Chinese steel. And I wouldn’t ever expect it to take much of an edge. And the knife blade does not lock open. So it’s not a combat blade by any means.  It does more than satisfy my utensil requirement. And it was dirt cheap, so I bought two!  (< $4 each)

There are a number of other items I have acquired or intend to acquire and haven’t put in the bag yet. Just to name a few of these…

  • Glock 17 (9mm) with standard capacity mags and a pair of “hi-capacity” magazines. And yes, I mean “high” as in 30+ mags.  Glocks are extremely good bug-out guns. They have a reputation for reliability and handling inclement weather. But they’re also one of the most common firearms. So the likelihood of picking up or interchanging magazines with someone else is probably higher with the 9mm Glocks than any other pistol.
  • BIC lighters. Cheap, disposable, and fairly reliable. Purchased these but I need to find where the Mrs. put them.
  • Changes of clothes for each family member. Though this might go in the Kelty. And for the baby it’s essentially going to be dual-purpose rags/cloth diapers, and a couple of diaper covers.
  • Chord/rope – I want to get some small twine or chord. As well as some decent rope (100+ weight capacity) + a few pulleys. (Oh the wonders you can do with just 2-4 small pulleys.
  • First aid kit include emergency treatment and standard fare of meds (Ibuprofen, PepcidAC, Zyrtec, etc)
  • GPS receiver (bluetooth model) can connect to either my old cell phone or my laptop.
  • Hatchet/Large knife
  • MRE’s (Planning to pick up a few of these. I ate one and realized that it’s really enough for two people. So I figure a just a couple should get us by for a day or two.)
  • Thumb Drive(s)… on this I will store a copy of all our personal records (Birth certificates, gun receipts, etc) and all our personal files (important family photos, creative writings, etc). Why a thumb drive?  Because I put one of those through the washer three times and the dryer twice and it still works years later.
  • Toilet paper – “important papers”, while you can use leaves and such. Do you want to?  Here’s a tip, many of the rolls used for business’ do not have tubes. They roll it solid. These are superb because you do not waste the space in the tube. If you do take a roll of toilet paper with a tube. Remember that you can fill that space up with all sorts of things.
  • Water….always a necessity.
  • Otis gun cleaning kit…I am contemplating getting one of these down the road for the bug out bag.
  • Wool blanket…wool can keep you warm even when wet. In combining this with the above tarp I have the means to break the wind and keep us warm.
  • Silver coin…you never know what the value of the $ will be in time of crisis. Having some silver on hand spares you from hawking your wedding band for a few gallons of gasoline.
  • Jug of gasoline in the garage. You never know if you’ll have a full tank or empty tank when the crisis hits. This way you always have the means to fill up your tank and get you as far away as possible. And also “refill” if you run out of gas before reaching a new source and need to hike a ways.

That’s not all I intend to have or think advisable. But it’s all I remember at the moment and/or have added to my list. Please feel free to suggest any other items of importance.

So what are YOUR suggestions?

Do you have a “bug out” bag? If so, what’s in it?

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 11:34 pm  Comments (15)  
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