Convenience and Simplicity – Pt 2: How to Make a Better Bug Out Bag
Last week, we posted about some of the common problems with pre-made emergency kits. This week is part 2, how to make a BETTER kit.
Also, now that we’ve exposed the possible deficiencies with pre-made kits, what about the user? We know that just buying stuff doesn’t help much if you don’t know what you have or how to use it. Let’s talk about suitable options to make a better kit and the recommended skills to have at a minimum.
- Pick up a quality water filter that has specs showing it can filter the most common biologicals if not better. I recommend Berkey bottles for their convenience and durability. Learn some basic water purification skills and how to select the best water in your area. Add some water purification tablets or Tincture of Iodine 2% for extra protection.
- Pick up a quality survival blanket in a larger size, and add some Gorilla duct tape to seal yourself in. Better yet, grab a SOL Emergency Bivvy. Learn about heat and cold injuries and how to prevent them. (For a 2 person bivvy, check this out: SOL emergency Bivvy – 2 person)
- A 55-gallon heavy-duty trash bag has a hundred uses including rain poncho and takes up no room when rolled up. Take 2 of them with you. Learn some ways to use the bag resourcefully.
- Making fire is a very important skill to know. There is no need to default to rubbing sticks together if you take a fire source with you. A quality disposable lighter with some duct tape and jute twine will serve dozens of purposes. You can also add some tinder (duct tape is also a good tinder) and add a ferrocerrium rod as a back up. Learn how to make a fire teepee from debris.
- Food rations are as simple as adding some sports bars but you can also purchase the better quality survival bars such a SOS or Mainstay. If you want a longer-term kit, add some pre-made cable snares or a slingshot. Learn about wild edibles to take advantage of your surroundings.
- Add a good quality whistle such as JetScream or at least a good referee whistle. Learn some basic self-rescue and signal techniques for air and ground rescue observation. If you go on a hike or trip, you should have told someone where you were going and when to expect you to return.
- Add a couple of good quality N95 masks in a Ziploc bag to your kit. These are helpful in many environments. Learn basic flu prevention methods and how germs are transmitted. If in an urban area, become familiar with regular wind patterns in case smoke or building collapse dusts becomes a concern. Add a heavy quality cotton bandanna to wet into a simple smoke mask. Swim goggles can help see in contaminated air. Know your evacuation routes for everywhere you go, inside and outside.
- Add a few pair of Nitrile medical gloves in a plastic bag and rotate them at least every year. A decent set of work gloves will protect your medical gloves when handling debris such as in a car accident or urban disaster. Learn about blood-borne pathogens and take a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class. The classes are free and you will receive free gear and meet others interested in preparedness. Look here for a class
- Add some custom first aid supplies based on your abilities and likely situation. Learn some basic first aid and CPR.
- Add a good quality flashlight preferably a bright LED headlamp and extra batteries for hands free operation. It is a good idea to add several Cyalume Brand green and yellow 12-hour chemical light sticks. These are military grade and cost about $1 each. Take care not to bend them in your bag until you need them. These will be effective for the full 12 hours unlike the cheap version form overseas.
- Place all your gear in a decent quality backpack that is durable but not necessarily to expensive or too tactical looking. You don’t want someone trying to take it from you. Use a bag large enough to add some personal items but not so big you can’t easily carry it for long distances. If it has a padded waist belt, that’s even better.
This is not the end of the discussion and you must personalize the bag for your skill level and particular situation. As we always say in our Bug-Out Bag classes, never listen to anyone who gives you a generic shopping list. If they do, I guarantee they don’t know what they are talking about.
In closing I want to add a couple of the many possible additions to your kit to make it yours.
Some additions to consider:
- Seasonal clothing you can walk long distances in
- Outdoor boots or walking shoes
- Hiking socks
- First-Aid references
- Health information
- Important documents
- ID to prove where you live
- Special meds
- Ear plugs
- Commo plan/phone numbers
- Self defense item
- Steel water bottle and cup
- Quality knife
- Cordage, 550 or bank line. At least 50 feet
- Gorilla Brand duct tape
- Waterproof bag
In closing, this is a very large subject broken down to demonstrate the benefits of building your own kits and learning some basic skills. This article is in no way meant to be all-inclusive. It is too easy to grab something off of a shelf and feel safe but it is another thing entirely to actually be ready for life’s emergencies. Take a little time to do it right. It doesn’t have to be expensive but these are things you are effectively betting your safety on, and possibly the safety of your loved ones. They deserve a well though out plan and quality equipment.
What would you add to the list that can be carried to improve your general survival?
Feel free to list skills or gear.