Best Bug Out Bag ?
Preparing for Uncertainties
What is a BOB, or Bug Out Bag? Simply put, a BOB is a bag you prepare ahead of time that contains the bare essentials for you to survive or BUG OUT (in this case, 72 hour survival), some take the meaning to of a BOB to mean something else, but for purposes of this article I will address the survival aspect only. The BOB should contain the necessary life sustaining materials to get you to safety, get rescued, or keep you alive. The following is based on my experiences both in the military and in civilian life. Katrina should have opened minds and eyes.
Being prepared is often seen as paranoia, from my experience with people, and that is just not the case. Preparing for something is responsible, pro-active, and necessary for one to survive. As a US citizen, it is my responsibility to be prepared to prevent my own demise and that of my family, not to wait for government help or a decision. Since I live in a seismically active region with volcanoes, flooding, and rough topography, I have taken it upon myself to be prepared for these kind of events. The following is a list of the items, with explanations, that I have prepared in a BOB that I keep in my car, so if I'm away from home or traveling, I will have the minimum to survive until I can get home to the rest of my prepared cache.
First item is water since you can die in just a few days without it. I use a PUR water filtration system and I have a military issue canteen with water in it in my BOB. The canteen serves as a readily available supply of water for my immediate use, and the filtration pump allows me to sustain it. Water purification tabs, but I prefer the pump and canteen because there is no waiting.
Second item is a brand new Israeli M-15 gas mask. Brand new because if you buy used you are compromising yourself with used equipment. You have no idea how that equipment was treated prior to you purchasing it, so my advice is to stay away from military surplus masks. The Israeli's make some outstanding equipment (one reason I buy from them), and it is affordable (about $50.00 per mask). The masks have 40mm NATO threading for the filters so they are easy to find and they filter fine particulates from the air you breathe (volcanic dust, smoke, and chemicals. DO NOT buy filters without a seal on them. If you are given used filters or ones with broken seals, return them and DO NOT USE, as they are worthless.
Third item is a knife, usually a folding knife with about a 3 or 4 inch blade. Also affordable and easy to get, a knife is an invaluable tool when trying to survive. You just do not realize how many times a day you need a knife until you carry one everyday. A must have!
Fourth item is 550 cord or parachute cord. This cord is the duct tape of the rope world and an absolute necessity of anyone's kit. This will help you fix and secure things, build a shelter, wrap a splint, etc... . I suggest about 200' of this be in your BOB. You will also need your knife to cut this!
Fifth item is a flashlight since you do not get to pick the time of day or your place in the world when something goes south. Mag-lite, any tactical weapon light or a headlamp. I have a headlamp that requires no batteries, it is a crank light and just 90 seconds of cranking will give me about 10 minutes of light. The use of a headlamp also allows me the both hands should I have to carry someone or something, or even if I'm ambulatory (using a cane or crutch).
Sixth item is food and I keep a 72 hour supply of Datrex food bars in my BOB. They taste OK, but I've eaten some weird stuff in my day so these Datrex food bars just fine. They are small enough to into a small BOB.
Seventh item is an emergency blanket that will help you stay warm since it traps radiant heat, and will also help keep you dry. Another thing they are good for is emergency signaling since they are reflective, they stand out. These cost about $1.00 each, real cheap!
Eighth item is a small first aid kit, especially something with disinfectant. You do not want to run the risk of infection when trying to self rescue or get someplace safe. So keep a small first aid kit with some gauze, band aids, and disinfectant in your BOB.
Ninth item is waterproof matches. Obviously this is for starting a fire, a signal or one to keep you warm. I keep mine in a water tight match container.
Tenth item is some electrolyte tabs for adding to water. Replacing your electrolytes is vital since you will be expending energy and they need to be replaced. I get mine from REI and they come on different flavors too.
Eleventh item is a hand gun. I keep a Glock 21 (.45 ACP) on me or in my vehicle. In a time of a major disaster people will be panicking, and some will use this time to take advantage of the weak and unprepared. It is also a good idea to defend against dogs or other animal attacks.
Twelfth item is any medications you need on a regular basis and over a 3 day period.
Thirteenth item is some form of communicator. I carry a 2 meter ham radio but a cell phone, walkie talkie, or other form of two way communication can be the difference in your survival.
The final item, and not the least, is your attitude. Maintaining a positive or optimistic attitude is paramount since your mind is a tool, USE IT to your advantage. Your attitude will make or break your attempts to self rescue, survive, or become rescued. Always stay focused on surviving, it is in our instincts to do this.
Finally, this should serve as a basic guide of items to put into a BOB or 72 hour survival bag. Some other items I keep in my bag are: duct tape (can be used as bandage adhesive) I wrapped onto a pencil (pencil can be used to make shavings for a fire), a snake bite kit, a signal mirror, a whistle and KIO3 anti radiation pills.
This may or may not be the best Bug Out Bag for you. This is meant to be a guide for the essentials and you may have different priorities than me.
Your comments and suggestions are very welcome.
My reading recommendation is a book by former SAS Operator, John "Lofty" Wiseman called "SAS SURVIVAL HANDBOOK". He is a 26 years veteran of the SAS (Special Air Service) and the British Army.