There are a lot of ways to measure the weight of your kit. Some people do like I’ve done here and just counted the basic gear minus food and water, because food and water are very mission-dependent. Some people count everything that goes in or on their pack at full capacity, under worst conditions. Some people go “skin-out” and weigh their clothing, EDC Kit, and everything that they’ll carry under worst conditions. There were WAY too many variables with most of these methods, so I chose to go with the simplest: dry weight (what I’m calling it), without food/water, what I’m wearing, etc.
It’s an impressive lineup – did we mention the 2 person tents? – that, like many of its competing bug out bags, is light on food. Although there’s plenty of room in the heavy duty nylon backpack for all the food you’ll need to survive several days in the wild. The company advertises their bag as being ‘discreet’, which is their way of saying others won’t recognize that it’s full of high quality survival gear and try to steal it from you. That may very well be but if Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on your location you have bigger things to worry about. The 2 person tent we mentioned is minimalist in nature but will provide welcome shelter if you can find a dry place to set it up and the waterproof backpack cover that comes with the bug out kit is a major plus this bug out bag has over some of the competition. The Stealth Tactical bug out bag costs a little more but it’s ready for whatever comes.
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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I’ve seen that 1/3 of your body weight number getting tossed around a lot. Any idea where that comes from? In Afghanistan I tried to keep my pack around 35 lbs so I was never over 75 or so with my weapon, ammo and body armor. Even then, walking all day with that much weight is brutal when you’re not used to it. I’d hope most people would shoot for around 35lbs total in a bugout bag. Add in a weapon and some ammo and you have another 8-10 lbs if you take a rifle. It adds up quick.
So despite the impression many people got from my “50 Items” article, I don’t think you should pack your bug out bag with as many items as possible. In fact, I think you should check your bag for any non-essential items with a large weight-to-space ratio and remove them. To that end, here’s a list of survival items I’ve seen in various lists online that, in my opinion, you don’t really need in your bug out bag.
Slid into the back of my backpack is a sheet-sized Fresnel Lens. It weighs so little that it didn’t come up on my scale and since there’s a flat spot that it fits into nicely, it effectively takes up no weight. It’s a no-brainer to get one of these. Here’s a quick video I did showing how easy it is to start a fire with one of these if you have a sunny day and some dry stuff laying around:
Design – The best bug out bag is one with plenty of pockets. This allows you to compartmentalize your bug out bag essentials so that you know exactly where everything is and you don’t have to dig through mountains of other stuff to find what you need. Put all your fire and light things together such as tactical flashlight, candles, headlamp, fire starting kit and storm proof matches. Put maps, GPS devices, compass and other navigation related items in their own pocket and so on. The more you can separate things the easier it will be to transcend your difficulties.
There are many types of shelters to consider including natural shelters such as caves, hollow stumps and logs, as well as building shelters such as a debris hut, lean-to, debris tipi, scout pit or snow shelter. Of the shelters listed, the debris hut is often the most practical to construct in almost any environment. Learn how to construct a debris hut.
The Emergency Zone bug out bag is one of the best equipped you’ll find with everything from the expected like drinking water and flashlight to the unexpected like works, a tube tent, toilet paper and even a multi tool. What it’s light on is food but there’s plenty of room in the water resistant bag for 4 or 5 days of food or more. While the shoulder straps on the Emergency Zone backpack could use some more padding the rest of the pack is logistically sound with plenty of external pockets for the included gear plus your own compass, GPS device, tactical flashlight, maps and more.
My big ticket items for weight are my cargo items. I currently use an ALICE pack with improved straps. That’ll be the first to go once I can afford a new pack, but I just bought a new rifle so the wife isn’t keen on me dropping a bunch more money for a new pack. I use a Snugpak jungle blanket and Stasha for shelter, I’m looking into getting a proper tent if I leave NC, for now I can string up the tarp as a tent, and bugs don’t like me so I’m okay there. I just swapped my MSR alpine pot for a kettle which dropped about half a pound off my weight. I tried your GORP recipe a while back and it was excellent, so any time I go on a trip I make sure to pack a bag of that. Once I replace my pack I’m sure I’ll be re-visiting this list to see where else I can shave weight, I’m currently sitting at about 42# for a fully loaded pack, I want the whole thing to weigh less than 35# when I’m done.
As a wilderness survival guide, I often am called upon to differentiate wilderness survival from primitive living. Often times these two are lumped together as one, but in fact they are distinct. Wilderness survival refers to the actual experience of survival in the wilderness, which may or may not be a "primitive" experience depending on the gear you have access to. Wilderness survival is usually a short term experience. Primitive Living is usually a long term experience, and refers to the experience of living in a primitive setting, practicing primitive skills for an extended period of time.
SHTF is an acronym that stands for sh*t hits the fan. This means that something drastic has happened, like a natural disaster, financial crisis, or a war has started. This term is generally used for when things go south quickly. The other acronym that is commonly used to signal it is time to pull out your bug out bag is ‘TEOTWAWKI’. This stands for ‘the end of the world as we know it’.
Everyone’s needs when they Bug Out are different. So your Bug Out Bag should suit your needs. Your size/strength, number in party, where you plan to go and for how long will determine what goes in the bag. Bigger groups can share load weights. The only way to determine which bag works for you is to research and try the different sized and designed back packs. In the end, the weight you’ll be carrying may determine whether an external frame or internal frame will be best.
Fire is presented as a tool meeting many survival needs. The heat provided by a fire warms the body, dries wet clothes, disinfects water, and cooks food. Not to be overlooked is the psychological boost and the sense of safety and protection it gives. In the wild, fire can provide a sensation of home, a focal point, in addition to being an essential energy source. Fire may deter wild animals from interfering with a survivor, however wild animals may be attracted to the light and heat of a fire.
The bag can be loaded and then cinched down with compression straps to keep your gear from shifting. The bag has 11 different exterior pouches allowing for good organization. The bag comes loaded with PALS webbing which allows any MOLLE webbing accessory to be added. The price point is good since the quality is high and the pack is so large. The carrying capacity of the bag is 173 liters and comes with a Lifetime Warranty.
I already have 3 very, very, good books on Survival. My favorite is the SAS Survival Handbook by “Johnny Wiseman”. It is the most complete Survival Handbook I have ever studied from. Not only does it have all the basic skills but also details for different food sources & how to find & identify edible plants, but the ones you should not eat. Making weapons & traps. I could go on & on.
One fire starting technique involves using a black powder firearm if one is available. Proper gun safety should be used with this technique to avoid injury or death. The technique includes ramming cotton cloth or wadding down the barrel of the firearm until the cloth is against the powder charge. Next, the gun is fired upward in a safe direction, and ones runs and picks up the cloth that is projected out of the barrel, and then blows it into flame. It works better if there is a supply of tinder at hand so that the cloth can be placed against it to start the fire.
For someone new to being a Survivalist building your first Bug Out Bag can seem like a big task. Everybody you read about has been tweaking theirs for months or even years and has a pile of gear built up. It’s hard to know where to start, but if you cover all of the basics in a survival situation you will still be much better off that 99% of the people.
That’s like me saying you are wrong to recommend a .22 because it would eventually succumb to the end of the world and become useless as pellets dry up, don’t bother wasting your time packing a finite resource, a knife will do everything for you, it will rebuild society!! But as you unwittingly acknowledged, you pack the .22 knowing it will be useful at first and will eventually become nothing more than an ornament you could discard or stash somewhere safely in case you ever come across more ammunition.
I took all my “kit” electronics ie solar panels etc, a duplicate luci lamp (how fun is this!), and some spare LED flashlight bulbs and wrapped them in overlapping wax paper with a dessicant pack, then foil, then wax paper, then a specific 3M dri-shield mylar anti-static bag which I closed with HVAC metal tape (like they use to patch a/c ducting). The tape and bags make for some sharp corners and I’m still pondering how to solve that. You can write directly on the bags with a sharpie or use masking tape to make a label. Every couple of months I open it all up to see if it’s working and/or corroded. It’s a total pain in the patootie to seal it up again but I sure sleep better. Didn’t really add any weight and I didn’t wrap everything just the backup/spare stuff. If there was some weird solar or other event, then I would dump the more EDC stuff if it stopped working. Hubby thinks I’m nuts but I sleep better at night.
A BOB is the minimum equipment you need (depending on your skill set) to get from point A to point B. It is not meant to last a month or a year or ten years. If you don’t have long term gear at point B and you can’t stay at point A, you’re better off in a FEMA camp. Point B can be anything from a motel to a relative’s house to a cabin deep in the woods someplace but you have to get there when the going gets tough. That’s why a BOB is important. What I think people fail to understand is that what takes 72 hours in good times might take two weeks or more in tough times and that BOB needs to get you through. Hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging are required skills in that case; you can’t rely solely on what you can carry on your back.
Focusing on survival until rescued by presumed searchers, the Boy Scouts of America, or BSA, especially discourages foraging for wild foods on the grounds that the knowledge and skills needed are unlikely to be possessed by those finding themselves in a wilderness survival situation, making the risks (including use of energy) outweigh the benefits.
It is really important to know what all you actually need to prepare yourself and your family for an emergency. The first and foremost thing is the first aid kit. It is really important to store your firstaid supplies in a sturdy box or nylon case. But the point to remember is that, the case should be easy to carry and water proof. It is better to keep all the important medicines in your case and also make sure they are not expired.