Tag Archives: bug out bag essentials

Bug Out Bag Checklist (Part 3)

5 May

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

Bug Out Underwear

4 Sep

I spent a little time on Youtube watching some prepper videos. One I recommend is Demcad about the importance of building relationships.
This is especially true for older preppers. He’s correct that this is a neglected topic. Guns get all the attention. It got me to thinking: What’s the most neglected prepper topic?

Several preppers showed off their new bug-out-bag equipment. Guns, knives, fire starters, cooksets. Cool stuff. When I see a prepper pull out a shiny new tube tent in its packaging, I wonder how he’ll really do in a real bug out. You need to test your outdoor equipment. From what I recall of shiny emergency blankets and cheap tube tents is that they won’t hold up to real use. Give me a military poncho instead.

We all must test our preps. But we all neglect some. The other day our land line phone stopped working. No problem. I dug out an extra I had purchased a few years ago. I plugged it in. DOA. Cheap Chinese crap. Too late to return it. Shoot. If I was smart, I would have tested it when I purchased it. I’m only out a few bucks. With outdoor survival equipment, you could be out your life.

With all the bug-out-bag videos on Youtube, I didn’t find one that discussed bug out underwear. No. I’m not kidding. Maybe all these preppers live in moderate climates and their clothing doesn’t really matter. But if you’ve spent time outdoors in harsh environments, your clothing is important.

One of the best groups to learn about underwear from is backpackers. Because nobody wants to talk about underwear, they call this their “base layer.” That sounds cooler than talking about underwear.

Here’s a nice discussion about your “base layer” from REI.com. They explain the situation very well. I won’t repeat the same information here. The problem with comfortable cotton is that it retains moisture. It’s even been called “death cloth” because wet cotton takes more energy for you to stay warm. If you take some expeditions in Alaska and other cold areas, they’ll tell you not to wear cotton. You’ll need to smuggle in a few contraband pairs of your cotton shorts.

With your “base layer,” you have three basic choices. Cotton. Comfortable, but if you sweat and it gets wet, it’ll stay wet. You’ll stay cold. We won’t even go into the other issues of wearing wet underwear for days on end. We’ll call this your wet option.

The other option is synthetic. This is the stinky option. For some reason, most synthetic materials that are good at wicking away moisture stink.

The third option is wool. Many of us just can’t wear wool. It’s itchy. Some like Merino wool, but it can wear out quickly. This is the scratchy option.

Talking about wet, stinky, or itchy underwear, I mean base layer, just isn’t that much fun. But if you’re forced to survive in a harsh environment, this stuff matters. Being properly dressed can be the difference between life and death.

Once you’ve purchased and tested base layers, you can look into the other clothing layers. Insulating layers provide warmth. In most environments, you’ll want a waterproof outer layer. You want to keep warm, but not sweat too much. Your clothing layers let you regulate your body temperature and control sweat build up as your level of activity and the outside temperature changes.

Preppers assembling bug out bags can learn a lot from backpackers. Youtube preppers should show off their bug out underwear. OK. Bad idea. Never mind.

What do you think is the most neglected prepper topic?

This is a neat collection of articles about backpacking.

Homemade cotton ball fire starters.

Compact fishing kit.

More about skin irritation and hiking.

The ten essentials for hiking.

It’s interesting to see what other backpackers carry.

For those interested in metalwork (casting), here’s a good book review of an older Navy manual.

Apartment Prepper has a great write up about experimenting with a sourdough starter mix.

U.S. Marshals on use of the expandable baton: