Many chafe at the notion of “survivalism” because it seems to focus on potentially negative events; it implies something from which you are surviving (natural or manmade disaster). Our friend Mark Smith from Southern Plains Consulting concisely discusses the need for preparation for any event . Whatever you may believe about the impending doom, it is “cheap insurance” (as Wilson calls it) to know that you have what you need in the moment. Here in rugged Montana, it’s considered basic common sense to keep items in your vehicles for weather, car trouble, and supplies in the event you are lost or trapped on a back road. Let’s learn from that “just in case” philosophy…there just might be a day when you are thankful that you (or someone else near you) took the time to buy “cheap insurance.”
The Bug-Out Bag
Guest Post by Mark Smith, Southern Plains Consulting
This particular item has a selection of names depending upon who you ask. The B.O.B. or Bug-Out Bag, the Bug Home Bag, the Emergency Bag, Go Bag…you get the idea. The important thing is to understand what its purpose is, and then put however many you need for your family together. After that you can pick your own name for it!
Having a “go bag” is a personal choice but it’s one in which I personally believe very strongly. My bag stays in my truck unless I am going to be away from home with someone else and not in my vehicle. Then it goes with me. Some of the benefits of having supplies with you include peace of mind, ability to treat injury, having food and water, having a change of clothes and a way to generate fire. Overall a pretty good list, I think.
When “survivalism” was becoming more popular back in the 1970’s, one of the notions being put forward back then was the idea of Backpack Survivalism. It involves slinging a well-stuffed backpack over your shoulders and “heading for the hills” to try and survive. Can you imagine trying to carry everything you need? Or only having what you can carry with on your back? I genuinely believe that backpack survivalism will not work for the overwhelming majority of the people. There are certainly hardcore hikers and outdoor types that have the experience and skills; they may survive using this method but the underlying question is… for how long?
Could you make it through a negative scenario? Consider these questions:
What kind of physical shape are you in? Can you handle a long-distance journey?
What supplies do you have in your bag and in what quantity?
How well do you know the route?
How long will the trip take?
How could the weather affect the traveling (on foot)?
Is there a chance that criminal activity could impact you as you travel?
What if you did not have a Bug-Out Bag at all?
Here is what I have in my personal bug out bag.
2 PAIR OF LARGE VINYL GLOVES DISPOSABLE CPR MASK
2 TRIANGULAR BANDAGES 2 DISPOSABLE FOIL BLANKETS
1 PAIR SHEARS 1 ROLL 2” MEDICAL TAPE
10 PACKETS ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT 3 PACKETS BURN JEL
10 PACKETS STING RELIEF WIPES 4 TYLENOL CAPLETS
10 PACKETS IODINE PREP WIPES 5 PACKETS GERM X WIPES
6 ANTI DIAHREA TABLETS 6 PEPTO BISMAL TABLETS
10 BUTTERFLY STYLE BANDAIDS 5 ¾ X 3 BANDAIDS
5 LARGE PATCH BANDAIDS 5 KNUCKLE BANDAIDS
5 FINGERTIP BANDAIDS 8 STERILE 4 X 4 GAUZE PADS
1 5 X 9 STERILE TRAUMA PAD 2 2” STERILE GAUZE ROLLS
1 8 X 10 STERILE TRAUMA PAD 2 4” STERILE GAUZE ROLLS
FOOD / WATER
2 COMPLETE MEALS READY TO EAT
2 700 ML REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
ASSORTED ENERGY BARS AND ELECTROLYTE REPLACEMENT PACKETS
1 PAIR SOCKS
1 TUBE TOOTHPASTE
1 BOTTLE OF LIQUID SOAP
6 COUGH DROPS
1 ROLL TOILET PAPER
1 ELASTIC CAMOFLAUGE COVER
1 STATE MAP
1 LEATHERMAN STYLE MULTI TOOL
1 BACKSTRAP STRAP
50 STRIKE ANYWHERE MATCHES
1 PAIR 72” BOOTLACES
5 ASSORTED CHEMICAL LIGHTSTICKS
As the seasons change, I add or remove items as necessary. For example, in the fall I add more clothing such as a thermal undershirt and change out the socks for a heavier wool pair. I check the bag over for wear and the contents for conditions. One of the biggest things I do is to put the pack on and wear it around to keep myself acclimated to the feel of it. If you don’t exercise regularly you cannot expect to be able to just grab your bag and then walk 8.7 miles from work with it on your back (if your vehicle dies or the roads become impassable).
Here are some additional items that you may consider having in your BOB.
Single burner stove A book A small tent
A complete change of clothes A signal mirror Notepad
Pens/pencils Currency/coins Junk silver coins
Firearm/ammunition Freeze dried food Poncho
The list above is not intended to be an absolute, it is provided to give you a starting point. Everyone’s situation is unique and so their planning needs to reflect that. For example if the person is a smaller frame female their physical ability will differ from that of a 6’2” man which is simply the reality of the differences. She may be able to better hike the distance with a load than he is. It comes down to willpower as well.
Chaya’s Note: I also keep a pair of hiking shoes/boots in my vehicle, because who only knows what I might be wearing if my car were to break down. Also, if you or anyone in your family takes necessary prescription medications, secure some extra for your bag. Three days on a back road waiting for help—you will be glad you thought of it!
Do yourself a huge favor and do not go the cheap route when choosing a bag, get quality. If you are ever in a situation that you need what is in the bag, don’t cheat yourself by trying to save a dollar. That includes the bag contents. These supplies could literally save your life, so that is not the time to worry about saving a buck to two.
It is both foolish and shortsighted to believe that you can toss your bag on your back and then hike for a prolonged distance if you are not in shape to do it. You MUST practice with your equipment and that means all of it--not just a few bits of it here and there. As you get out and increase the distance you can walk or run, you will feel better both mentally and physically. It increases your options as your health improves as well. In my case I have to be careful with the overall weight of the bag as not to overtax my shoulder. My left shoulder is artificial due to a line of duty injury when I was a firefighter. I am limited to about 35 pounds total weight which makes my choices for what I put in it all the more critical. I put mine on and walk about with it so that I can keep my endurance up as well.
If you don’t have a BOB then I would strongly suggest that you look at putting one together for everyone in the family.
Thanks, Mark, for talking us through the process of an emergency kit (aka "bug out bag")! We hope that we never need to use it, but if we do....
p.s.--I've broken into mine when my feet got wet in winter and I raided the food once when my blood sugar level dropped. I'll never be caught without my BOB!
You can also hear Mark, who joined us previously on a podcast. Click Here
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