The whole point of a bug out bag is that it is ALWAYS packed and ready to go. In a true emergency, you might not have the time to throw those last few items into your bug out bag that you’ll really need. So, the short answer to this question is that the bag should be packed and ready to go at all times. But you should also be careful to regularly check any items in your bag that could expire or need replacement if they’ve been sitting for a while.
In this review guide we’re going to shine a light on 21 essential pieces of survival gear everyone should seriously consider having in their survival pack. We’re going to concentrate on survival gear aimed at aiding those engaged in outdoor activities and not those forced from their home by natural disaster, although some of these products will also be useful in those types of situations. We’ll start by highlighting 3 pieces of must-have survival gear; those things we would not venture into the wilderness without, and then move on to other valuable survival aids you’ll want to think about packing.
For my primary light, I sometimes carry a Zebra Light ASC52w L2. It’s fantastic. I got the neutral white color (the ‘w’ part of the model). It’s a bit different looking at things at night in true light but I really like it. It’s a touch less bright than the white light but doesn’t distort the colors of what you’re looking at like most flashlights do. It’s still HELLA bright for a AA flashlight.
Not all automobile needs and breakdown situations are the same, and Survival Supply keeps this in mind. To cover all possible instances, we offer AAA-approved, DOT, and winter roadside emergency kits; survival tools for opening a car door or breaking through a window; separate safety items, such as fire extinguishers and triangles; and additional road safety supplies for first aid and emergency preparedness.
To address all the areas first aid kits are needed, Survival Supply offers several types. The most versatile is a nylon bag, with all supplies stored in compartments inside. Such a kit is ideal for motorists and outdoorsmen, as it can be stored in a pack or glove compartment. Wall mount kits are another option. For the easiest access inside a facility, a wall mount kit is clearly visible and marked, and just by opening the door, you have access to all supplies.
What does a standard first aid kit give you? Although kits vary by size from individual to family, all cover the following supplies: instruments for addressing an injury or applying an ointment; various antiseptic items for cleaning a wound; medicines; bandages of all sizes; dressing; ointments such as iodine; and an instruction manual for properly attending to various common injuries.
The kind of gear you need – It’s easy to get obsessed with survival gear and start accumulating every new product that comes on the market. If you have money to burn and engage in a variety of backcountry activities this might be a sound strategy. Most people however decide pretty early on what type of outdoor activity floats their particular boat and as such any survival gear should have some sort of relationship to that activity. Everyone, for instance, should have an emergency whistle with them but not everyone will need an extreme sleeping bag. Everyone will need first aid items but not everyone will need to carry croval shovel or a tactical watch or field watch. If you’re a mountaineer you’ll probably want that shovel, especially if you’re climbing in the winter. If you’re going on a day hike and aren’t bringing food that requires preparation there’s no need for a mess kit and so on.
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.
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.
For food acquisition, I have several yards of 40-lb test fishing line. Normally you don’t want it to be so thick but this way I can use it for building a shelter, making a snare trap, or repairing clothing if I need to. I’ve also added some fishing hooks, a couple of bobbers, and a couple of weights in a little case. The disposable ear plugs can also be used as floats. I also have some dental floss that can be used for the same things.
One thing that the article doesn’t reference is “How many people will there be in your Bug Out party?” The point being, that although there are some items that need to be in everyones B.O.B, there are others that don’t require duplication. Figuring out which items can be used by all the members of your party can reduce duplicating these items in each bag. For example, does everyone in your party need to carry a 1 quart backpacking pot, or will 1 or 2 suffice for your whole group? Those types of items can then be parceled out to the members of the group, and cut the weight down.
I have a Harley handkerchief that they gave me at the local shop on Veteran’s Day last year. It can be used to filter out all the big stuff and to soak up small puddles. You can also brush it on tall dew-covered grass and plants as you walk through and wring it out into your mouth, although that won’t taste too good. Much better than using your socks though.
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.