In the last part of this ongoing saga post about bug out bags, we added the ten backpacking essentials to our bug out bag. You’re now very well prepared to survive for three days. You have adequate clothing, shelter, food, water, and a few key supplies.
Every bug out bag has a small repair kit. Simple things like a couple of needles and thread for repairing clothing. A tiny bit of wire. Maybe some repair tape. These things are light and can fix faulty equipment.
Your equipment should be in top notch condition. If the shoestring on your boots is old and frayed, it’s more likely to break. A spare shoestring could repair it in the field, but why not take care of problems now? This applies to your bug out vehicle. The better maintained, the less likely it’ll give you trouble during a real bug out.
Anything that’s really light weight and absolutely essential should have a backup. Some preppers like the saying “one is zero, two is one.” The idea being that if you have one of something and it fails you don’t have it. You’re down to zero.
Many essentials can’t be carried in the twos. Heavy sleeping bag, tent, rifle. No way. Too heavy. If you wear glasses, have an extra pair. I always carry two compasses and a second small knife and two flashlights.
If you travel with a group, you can mooch your backup off your buddy. If you drop your knife in a gully, he still has his. Your group isn’t totally knifeless.
Having a second applies to vehicles in extremely harsh environments. If you drive across the Sahara Desert, don’t take one truck. Take two. No matter how great a mechanic you are and how well stocked your repair items, something unfixable on the road can fail. In a lawless world, expect an immobilized and abandoned vehicle will be stripped of anything of value.
The same applies to snowmobiles driven far from others. Two people can ride on one, but two is better and safer. Some outdoorsman say you should never travel in the far north or other wilderness alone for the same reason. If something happens to one person, there’s another person who can help. I won’t go this far because too many guys like hiking, hunting, or fishing alone. A second person adds safety, but that’s a personal call.
Here are some items to consider:
a) A small radio. This is for getting local news. If an disaster is widespread there should be some news coverage. My current radio is a small Eton Mini 300PE. It’s not particularly rugged or good, but it gives you a chance to receive news. It has AM/FM/Some Shortwave.
In the book in the BOV chapter, one item I recommend for those traveling in remote areas is a PLB or a personal locator beacon. In a bug out, I’m assuming you’re fleeing the situation and aren’t expecting to be rescued. The assumption: You’re on your own. The radio above is for reception only.
b) A water purification device. I’m a big fan of Katadyn water filters. They’re expensive, but pretty much the standard used by relief organizations worldwide. If you can stomach it, resublimated iodine crystals work.
There are other options:
-Katadyn Micropur tablets.
-Chlor Floc. We can’t really use my favorite PUR product because it’s designed for use with larger containers, but as any prepper who’s read my book or past blog posts knows, I’m a huge, huge fan of the particle binder purification devices. If you have crap like DDT, heavy metals, etc, in your water this is the way to go.
– I don’t fully trust UV treatment of water, but some hikers swear by their Steripen UV lights. I don’t like relying on a battery operated device for water purification either.
-Survival filter straws. Some preppers like them.
– You have a metal cup so you can always boil water to kill bacteria.
– Coffee filters to prefilter your water. Kept in a ziplock bag.
I want to re-emphasize something from the first post. Water is absolutely essential to life and by five days without it, only the most advanced medical treatment in the world can save you. Three days without it is considered critical. Carrying two liters a day x 3 days is very heavy and bulky. But in a disaster you might not want to restrict your route to where water can be procured. You can’t sit around waiting for rain. Good news: With each passing day of hiking, you’ll have less water to carry. Bad news: Without a source of resupply, you’re getting closer to death.
Bug Out Bag weight is something that should be addressed. I watched a video where a guy said the weight of a bug out bag doesn’t matter. Toss in what you need. That’s OK if you’re super fit or if your bag sits in a vehicle. Most of us will need to balance what we carry with our ability to carry it.
If you’ve ever fallen down a hill with a heavy backpack, you’ll know the weight of the pack is directly related to your likely injuries. It’s bad enough to sprain an ankle when carrying no weight. But if you have a 60 pound pack, the injury will likely be greater. Carrying too much weight isn’t only exhausting and slowing. It puts you at more risk in rugged terrain.
The most serious backpackers today are going “ultralight” and will brag for hours how they reduced the weight of their cook kit by 2 oz. Ultralight equipment isn’t as durable as heavier stuff. Put a GI military surplus rain poncho next to a commercial “survival” poncho and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Some preppers accept light duty equipment for a three-day survival kit. I like robust gear.
Each prepper needs to decide how much weight is acceptable in his own pack. My advice: Go hiking with your BOB. Can you comfortably trek 10 miles? Can you climb a hill? How far do you plan to travel?
Another tip: After your outdoor adventures do you have stuff in your pack you never needed? I’m not talking about a first aid kit, but about tools and equipment that you previously thought were essential.
Little Light Weight Stuff That’s Difficult To Fabricate
Years ago I was big into fishing. Not only go fishing, but I’d read books on fishing. Through The Fish’s Eye, Fishing Top To Bottom, Secrets of A Muskie Guide. That sort of book. I haven’t fished in years and gave away most of my tackle. That was dumb.
In the wild, fishing can provide protein. There are many ways to catch fish but most common is the good old hook and line. Modern fishing line and metal hooks are light weight and far better than anything you’ll fabricate in the wild. You can keep a few hooks, sinkers, bobbers and line in your pack and not notice the weight.
A fishing kit isn’t absolutely essential for a three day bag. It’s more of an outdoor survival item. You can carry the same concept to other items. If you want to fabricate a bow in the wild, carry a bow string and some arrowheads. The plastic nocks are handy. Add a little fletching and epoxy. By no means do you have a bow ready, but if you needed to make one you’d have some of the most valuable parts which are really difficult to make.
To be continued…
Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door