SOG made their shovel practical survival gear by cutting back its length to a manageable 18 ¼” and its weight to an equally manageable 24 ½ ounces. It folds up to a mere 1 foot long and can be easily strapped to the exterior of any decent sized backpack. The SOG shovel also boasts a row of thick rugged teeth along the side for hacking and cutting underbrush or harvesting wood for your fire. The blade can also be rotated and used as a pick or a hoe to do more precise clearing. All in all this is a piece of survival gear you won’t want to do without.
One of the most important things to have in a survival kit is a fixed-blade knife. I used to carry a SOG Seal Elite, and I even carried it in Iraq and Afghanistan, but for a bug out bag here at home, I wanted to see if I could cut down the weight and still have a very effective knife. After a LOT of research, I pretty much came back to the same thing but got the SOG Seal Pup instead.
The most important factor that will determine the right size bug out bag is your torso size. You can measure your torso by having a friend or casual acquaintance measure the distance from the top of your Iliac Crest (hip bones) up to the bony prominence at the base of your neck (the last cervical vertebrae). Knowing the length of your torso will help you choose a bug out bag that fits comfortably.
The Trangia Alcohol Stove is a great addition to it because the Solo Stove makes it more efficient. The nice thing about the Trangia is that it has a screw-on lid so you can put the flame out and carry it with fuel in it so you don’t have to guess exactly how much fuel you’ll need each time. It burns alchohol so I carry 8 ounces of yellow HEET (which is methanol), carried in one of those cheap squirt bottles you find in the travel size section at the grocery store. Don’t get the red HEET (isopropyl), it’s not nearly as good. There are many fuels you can use with it though. Of note is Everclear, which can be used inside without worrying too much about the fumes, and you can drink it *shudder*.
For example, relatively near me recently there was a village evacuated from their homes for about a week due to a large damn above the village that was looking likely to burst as the damn wall started crumbling the torrential rain had the water at dangerous levels as it was. People who were home were given minutes to get their sh*t and leave while others were in work away from the danger zone and had zero chance to grab anything. For situations like these a mobile phone, charger, radio, batteries for headtorch etc are a completely rational and extremely likely to be heavily used while you get housed in a local community hall, leisure centre or school etc.

An excellent resource regarding bug out bags is a new book by Max Cooper called, “Realistic Bug Out Bag, 2nd Edition: Prepared to Survive.” This is a monster book at over 600+ pages. It has scenarios, drills, and is full of useful and insightful information. I like that the author stresses planning and has a section devoted to bug out plans and how to practice & train your plan. The section on self-defense is great. The chapter on trauma has very valuable information. He is also a huge advocate of designing a BOB that fits your needs based on factors that pertain to your situation. I highly recommend this book.
What I don’t have shown is a list of emergency numbers, frequencies addresses, account numbers, etc., because that’s now in my wallet. If you don’t have that on you, you should have that in your pack. I also didn’t show a map because I don’t have one for the area around here. If I were going somewhere, I’d get a map first and put it in something waterproof.
Don’t forget spices and nutritional supplements. Yes, you can plan a well-balanced diet with prepared foods, but not everyone has the same taste. Spices and herbs allow you to change up the flavor of the same basic ingredients for variety and interest. Vitamins and supplements are an important addition to your emergency supply stash. Choose nutrition bars, protein powder, or multivitamin capsules that support nutrition and boost natural immunity.
All of our hunter–gatherer ancestors had classification systems for living organisms, knew their names, understood their uses, recognized how they inter-related to each other, and were aware of exactly how to utilize those resources in a sustainable fashion. This knowledge was at the foundation of their ability to thrive within the natural environment.
Astronauts participating in tropical survival training at an Air Force Base near the Panama Canal, 1963. From left to right are an unidentified trainer, Neil Armstrong, John H. Glenn Jr., L. Gordon Cooper, and Pete Conrad. Survival training is important for astronauts, as a launch abort or misguided reentry could potentially land them in a remote wilderness area.
It’s now all in one kit – and not counting food and water, it’s all under 25 pounds. That may not sound like that much of a big deal but when you consider that includes two stoves, a hatchet, a sleeping bag, a slingshot/ammo, and still have room in my pack, it was quite difficult to accomplish. To be as accurate as I could, I got a postal scale and weighed everything individually myself because manufacturer’s weights aren’t always accurate and I’ve modified some things on a couple pieces – and will modify things further later.

The unfortunate reality of our world today is that we’re never quite sure when our comfortable existences will be dramatically disrupted. We can, however, prepare so that we are as ready as possible if that does happen. In this section, we’re going to offer answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about bug out bags so that you can further gather knowledge that will help you make your selection.
There’s always going to be the debate of Bugging In v. Bugging Out, and that is really our job as readers and posters to decide which is best for us and determine the situations/scenarios we may be faced with. What degree of societal collapse do we need to see, before we get the heck out of town? Obviously, the more rural your location is, the higher the probability of staying in place will be. One’s health, general level of physical conditioning and age are all factors we need to consider. It’s easy to say “Get into shape,” but the reality is that may not be possible for some of us with long standing health problems. For those of us incapable of increasing our strength or endurance, Bugging Out may be our last option.
When I was at the Prepper Expo here in Phoenix recently, I picked up a great little Lumitask USB light that’s SUPER bright for how tiny it is. I can plug that into the AA charger or the USB battery and it’s so small it’s pretty much zero weight and zero space (about the size/weight of a paper clip. Unfortunately they’re apparently not for sale yet and the company hasn’t answered my emails asking about them. If you’re reading this Lumitask – Holla!
Some will think the omission of foodstuffs from this bug out bag to be a bit odd but it’s not if you think about it. It might be years before you have to use the bag so it makes sense that you’ll want to procure your own emergency rations and review their condition a couple of times a year, replacing anything that might look dodgy. That said this bug out bag does emergency kit right with the aforementioned items as well as a dozen pouches of purified water, rain ponchos, quality toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving razor, comb, emergency whistle, emergency blankets, survival handbook, duct tape (!), paracord and more. There’s also the obligatory deck of cards for when you finally settle into the emergency shelter. Toss in some dry clothes for everyone involved, charger cords for your smartphone in case you run into a power source and a good book or two and you’ll be ready to wait out events in good shape.
On another note, the only thing I had trouble with was #1. Yes, sleeping bags are big and fat and are a pain to carry, but they will make up for it in heat. You need that heat, at least here in the Pacific Northwest where I live. You use a space blanket or bivvy, you get either a miserable night (lucky), or hypothermia (normal). I wouldn’t mind packing a bivvy instead if I lived in a warmer climate, but seriously, don’t skimp on the sleeping bag.
SOG made their shovel practical survival gear by cutting back its length to a manageable 18 ¼” and its weight to an equally manageable 24 ½ ounces. It folds up to a mere 1 foot long and can be easily strapped to the exterior of any decent sized backpack. The SOG shovel also boasts a row of thick rugged teeth along the side for hacking and cutting underbrush or harvesting wood for your fire. The blade can also be rotated and used as a pick or a hoe to do more precise clearing. All in all this is a piece of survival gear you won’t want to do without.
Gigging (hunting with a multi-pronged spear) is the simplest way to catch anything from snakes to fish. Cut down a sapling of about an inch in diameter, and then split the fat end with a knife (or sharp rock) into four equal sections ten inches down. Push a stick between the tines to spread them apart, then sharpen the points. You’ve got an easy-to-use four-pronged spear. Much easier for catching critters than a single sharp point.
Learn how to use it – What good is a compass if you don’t know how to use it? Not much. How about your Tenacious Tape? Or your GPS locator, or multitool? It’s great to head out into the wilderness with all the appropriate survival gear but if you don’t know how to use it when the time comes it will be as useless as the “g” in “lasagna”. Once you’ve decided what you need and have purchased everything take the time to familiarize yourself with what you have and how it works. Take the GPS locator out into your local state park and practice with it. Practice starting a fire with your emergency fire starter. Buy some extra Tenacious Tape and a cheap raincoat and practice cutting it up and making repairs. Take your survival knife out on a short hike and see what its practical limitations are when it comes to cutting wood etc. You might need a larger one or one with a longer serrated edge. The bottom line is this: make sure you know how to use the survival gear you have before you leave civilization behind and head into the woods.
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