For years, my bug out bag has languished in a closet, stuffed to the gills with the gear that I “thought” I might need if forced to flee my home following a disruptive event. My bag, as precious as it was, weighed over 40 pounds and the zippers were to the point of bursting. It was full of gear to cover every contingency I could think of.
How did this happen? Quite honestly, it happened gradually over a period of years. It started six years ago with my first B.O.B. That first effort included mostly the basics: fire making supplies, water purification tabs, a couple of knives, TP, a first aid kit, personal items, documents, and cash. At the time, I thought I was set. Of course I was wrong.
I Already Have a Bug-Out Bag. Why Change?
Over the last six years, my knowledge of preparedness has grown exponentially, and with each new month, a light bulb has gone off and another piece of gear added to the pack. Clearly, it was time for a change.
Why change? My bag had become a mish mash of items, most of which I would never need. The bag was too heavy and even if it was not, in an emergency I could not get to its poorly organized contents easily.
This time I wanted to do it right. Before setting out to reconfigure my bug out bag, I set down some assumptions and goals.
1. First and foremost, my bug out bag needed to address what I felt were the most-likely disruptive events to occur in my area. Yes, this would be a subjective risk evaluation but before continuing, I knew it had to be done lest I suffer another 40 pound behemoth backpack.
2. My B.O.B. needed to be road-worthy. It had to get me both away from home and back to home, depending on the circumstances.
3. Since my intent is to hunker down and bug in, this was not going to be a traditional survival bag. It’s contents would not need provide for my survival needs in the wilderness for days on end.
4. On the other hand, if my home became unsafe, I wanted to be able to deploy the contents of my bag while making my way to a secondary location for a few days up to a week.
5. Knowing that becoming sick or injured can prove deadly during an emergency, my primary Bug Out Bag would be supplemented by a separate First Aid Kit (FAK) that could be picked up an toted with me while carrying the B.O.B. on my back. Included in my FAK would be a large assortment of essential oils.
5 The total weight could not exceed 20 pounds.
Once I set down these ground rules, it was easy for me to empty my existing bag and start gathering the goods.
What’s Inside My All-New Bug Out Bag?
The following list represents the items that are currently in my all-new bug out bag. This is a simple list, organized by broad category, with some links if you want to investigate further.
Fire, Warmth & Shelter
Swedish Fire Steel
Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline
Mylar “Space” Blanket
2 Pocket-sized Mylar Blankets
2 Coleman Rain Ponchos
Reusable Hand-warmer Hot Pack
Hygiene & Personal
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Toilet Paper squished flat in a Food Saver bag
30 Day Supply of Prescription Meds
No Rinse Bathing Wipes
Personal wipes (“Butt wipes”)
$500 cash in small bills
Copy of passports and other important documents
A Quality Pack Builds the Foundation
Something that did not change is the pack itself. To this day, I really believe in the Rothco Medium Transport Bag. It has plenty of pockets to organize your stuff as well as straps to keep it secure. There is room for a water bladder (although I did not use one) as well as plenty of MOLLE for adding pouches of additional items to the exterior.
What I like most about the Medium Transport Pack is its slim form factor. It is only as wide as my body which means I can pass through narrow passages and hallways without bumping into things. If you are looking for a new pack, please do consider this one. For me, at least, it is perfect. It is tough, sturdy, and just the right size for carrying your bug out gear.
A Word About the FAK (First Aid Kit)
I did include a few bandages in my pack but for the most part, my intent is to tote my Ammo Can First Aid Kit with me. It is in the car during road trips and back in my closet while at home. Definitely, it moves around a lot. And, it gets used. A lot.
Call me clumsy or accident-prone, but the Ammo Can FAK has become the most used prep I own. The fact that it also includes remedies and essential oils increases it usefulness. Want to build one of your own? Read How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit.
What Is Missing?
Good question. At this point I have not added clothing, extra socks or underwear. Also missing are hiking boots which will already be on my feet or in the car. Also, items from my EDC and personal weapons and firearms are not included (my OSO Sweet pocket knife, Windstorm Whistle, and Ruger, for example).
All that being said, my B.O.B. has some room to spare. It came in at 17.5 pounds so I have a bit of room before reaching my weight limit. Most likely I will add a few items but, equally likely, I plan to start a second kit that includes the aforementioned clothing, a sleeping bag, and some amusements and comfort items. I never plan to have to go to a shelter but if I am forced to do so, I want a separate bag set up for that purpose alone.
One thing for sure. I am not going to run off and stuff anything and everything into a bag again, willy-nilly style. This time I plan to use my head and not my wallet, if you know what I mean.
The Final Word
I recently wrote about the The Conundrum of Bugging Out and What To Do About It. As I did with that article, I struggled today to present useful and practical information without sounding like a sales pitch for buying more stuff at Amazon or at your local outdoor emporium.
Did I succeed? I hope so. My intent with these two articles has been to provide you with a roadmap for building your own perfect bug out bag with the emphasis on “your own”. There is no laundry list of gear that is perfect nor is there one best “SHTF stockpile”. If that is what you are looking for, you have come to the wrong place.
At Backdoor Survival, I promote common sense, optimism, self-reliance, and a bit of frugality. I would like to believe my readers are like-minded and have the same core values. These are uncertain times and who knows what the future will bring. Let us learn to be safe together.
And that is all I am going to say about that. For now.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!