Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 2)

3 May

Continued from the last post…

9) Basic survival tools.

Last time, we added some fire starting items to our BOB. To get a good fire going, we’ll need firewood. Much of the time, you can find old branches. You can break most of them up with your hands or a kick. There’s no reason to attack healthy trees for firewood. Old dead branches are better. You won’t need an axe, hatchet, saw, or knife to get a simple fire going in most cases.

In some areas you can’t legally start a fire. In a life-or-death survival situation, I won’t worry about following that. We’re not talking about backpacking for pleasure, but survival under extreme conditions. If firewood isn’t plentiful in your area, you could carry a small backpacker’s stove.

If you have the items in part 1 of this post, you could survive for three days. Your clothing keeps you warm and dry. Your sleeping bag and shelter lets you get some rest. You have water. You have some food.

What you lack is the ability to do anything other than sit around or walk out of the disaster. You have no tools. Tools give you options. In the book at this point in our discussion of bug out bags, I distinguish between two very different types of bug out bags. There are 72 hour bags designed to help you evacuate and survive for three days. Then there are more hardcore bags designed to give you some chance of surviving in the wilderness on your own for a longer time. What you’d carry in each type of bag differs.

What if you’re trying to survive for a longer time in the North woods? Pioneers put away enough firewood to see them through winters. A good bow saw and a modest ax would be worth their weight in gold to survive long term. You’d want a sharpening stone to keep the ax in top condition. These tools let you build a more substantial shelter.

In some locations a machete is more practical than an axe. The supplies in your BOB should match your environment. What you carry in the North differs from what you carry in a jungle or the desert. Winter to somebody living in Georgia is different to Winter for somebody living in Minnesota.

Because we’ve broached the topic of long term survival in the North, one other tool is worthy of mention: A reliable rifle capable of taking deer sized game. If you’re in a wooded area where long shots aren’t common, one to look into is the TC contender carbine in 30-30. To make packing easier, you could have a gunsmith shorten the barrel to 18.5 inches. A very low power scope is good to add if your eyes demand it. Your time is better invested hunting large animals than seeking to bag smaller game. Shot placement will usually be much better with a carbine than a handgun. Smaller game is easily trapped.

Another choice would be a reliable bolt action in 30-06, 270 Winchester, or 308 Winchester.

You can’t carry a chainsaw or a full splitting maul in your BOB and for three days you won’t need to secure any large animals for food. If you have a bug out location in the far woods, you could add those items to your bug out retreat. This series of posts looks at a 72 hour bag only. With that in mind, I recommend these tools:

a) Knife & Sheath
b) Small folding saw
c) Needle nose pliers or a multi-tool

d) A small shovel

Your knife should have a fixed blade. Many preppers insist on a full tang knife. That’s a knife with the metal of the knife running the full length and height of the handle. You can see the same metal as the blade all around the handle. Some call this a full-full tang. The blade should be about 5″ or 6″ long. A longer Ka-bar is good if you want a larger blade, although it’s not a full-full tang.

It’s not a full-full tang, but my current knife of choice is a 5″ Buck Pathfinder. It’s light and does everything a knife should reasonably be expected to do. No. I don’t “batton” wood with it.

The shovel deserves a few words. For summer, a small one-handed gardening trowel lets you uproot things in the ground or do any digging. It’s much better than trying to dig with a stick. In winter, I like a slightly larger camping shovel. It’s useful for moving and packing snow. If you plan to build a shelter from snow, it’s a good item to have.

With the exception of the knife, I’d rate the other tools as optional. You can survive three days without them. A tight fitting pair of mechanics gloves will protect your hands if you undertake any projects and give you great control over tools. A pair of safety glasses is light and worthy of being carried in my opinion if you don’t regularly wear other glasses.

10) Cord. 550 paracord is an option. I’m tempted to lump cord with tools above, but I gave it its own topic. Cord or rope is extremely useful in the outdoors. It’s use to set up a tarp. It’s used to suspend things from a tree branch. It’s used to tie wood together when building something, from a shelter to a raft. It’s used to tie things down.

Many experienced outdoors people carry a lot of cord. It’s difficult to improvise rope or cord in the wild. If you want to try this, get a copy of Bushcraft by Richard Graves. The best way to learn to appreciate cord is to try to make your own!

11) Flashlight. This is another modern item that’s impossible to make in the wild. A small flashlight will let you see in the dark. Your light should use LEDs. Those lights consume far less battery energy than the older incandescent lights. Flashlights are safer than burning torches or candles.

12) First aid kit. If you get injured, you’ll need to be able to treat your wounds and keep them clean. Don’t overlook a tweezers and magnifying glass for removing slivers. Always carry a small mirror which lets you see if something is in your eye.

Some items could be in a first aid kit or the hygiene kit below.

13) Hygiene kit. Toilet paper, a bar of soap, handwipes for when water isn’t available. Plastic comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss (small), a small can of Tinactin antifungal foot spray. Insect repellant.

I keep small bandages, Spenco 2nd Skin Blister Pads, moleskin, and other first aid items in this kit too.

Many of the hygiene items aren’t absolutely essential to survive for three days, but they’re relatively lightweight and will make you feel much more human. A small bottle of deodorant is nice.

14) Because of their lightweight and all around survival value, we should add in the rest of the top ten backpacker’s list.

a) Map of the area and compass. One bug-out book recommends marking the route to your bug out location on your map. You should know the route by heart. If somebody finds your pack or takes if from you, they’ll realize you have great stuff. It could make them wonder what goodies are at the end of the treasure map.

b) Reliable watch, notepad, and pen. A watch can help you estimate distance traveled by knowing your travel time. A notepad and pen are always useful.

c) To aid in signaling, the mirror from your first aid kit could be used. A small plastic whistle can be used to draw people to you if lost.

To be continued…

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door

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