OK, so you’ve decided that you want to be prepared. Maybe you are buying a little extra food each week (with a long shelf life, that is). Maybe you are taking precautions to ensure the security of your home. But what if you can’t STAY in your home? What if a natural disaster, or civil unrest, makes it so that you have to leave? That’s where BOB comes in. BOB is a bug-out bag (other names include INCH (I’m Never Coming Home), PERK (Personal Emergency Relocation Kit), 72-hour bag, go-bag, GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge), and the list goes on). No matter what you call it, your BOB, when properly assembled, may well become your very best friend. But there are lots of things that go into the planning and building of a BOB – I will try to cover most of them in this post.
As mentioned in a comment to a previous post, the Rule of 3 should be foremost in your mind when planning your BOB. To recap, the Rule of 3 states that you can survive:
- 3 minutes without air
- 3 hours without shelter
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food
OK, so you’ve got that. Now – the first thing you want to do is figure out what to carry your stuff in (this is the “bag” in Bug Out Bag :-) ). I use an ALICE pack that I picked up at the surplus store for around 50 bucks – as a former Marine, it is a familiar item to me. The lovely and talented Mrs. BigBeefyD has an internal frame backpack that we found online for around $100 (ordinarily I wouldn’t recommend buying a pack without trying it on, but I was already familiar with this one). You can spend a lot more if you want to. The important thing in selecting the bag is to find one that fits well (or is adjustable) – remember that if you are bugging out on foot, or will eventually be walking, you will be carrying everything you own in this bag. That’s a bad time to find that the cheap bag you bought on Craigslist has shoulder straps that dig in too tight. I like packs with a waist belt, as this helps to distribute the load and take weight off of your shoulders.
Next, it’s time to start thinking about what should go in the bag. At this stage in the game, remember that everything you add to your pile adds to the weight that you will be carrying. Here is my MUST HAVE list of BOB items:
Water bottle with filter (I use the Sawyer Sp-140, www.sawyer.com, available at WalMart for about $35 – it’s guaranteed to filter 1,000,000 gallons of water at levels exceeding EPA requirements)
Magnesium fire starters (2)
Lighters, disposable (2)
Saw, wood, small with folding grip
Fire starters (see previous post on petroleum jelly-soaked cottonballs)
Radio, crank powered (need connection to re-charge cell phone)
Light stick (Cyalume or similar)
Flashlight, crank powered
Water purification tablets
Deck playing cards
Large clear plastic bags 4
Fishing equipment, misc
Batteries, spare D cell and AA cell
Flashlight with batteries D cell (LED bulbs last longer)
Zip lock storage bags, large and small
Softwipes 2 each – 50 pack
Gloves, utility 1 pr.
Goggles, eye protection, 1 pr
Knife swiss army
Multi-tool (Leatherman or similar – don’t scrimp on this)
Rain poncho, lightweight
Hatchet (camp axe)
Camp shovel, folding
Can opener (P-38 or P-51 military-style are less than a buck each at surplus stores)
Camp cooker (I like the Solo Stove)
Polyrope or paracord, 50 ft
Knife sharpener, small
Camping cook set and utensils
Mylar space blankets (2 minimum)
Some of these things can be combined. For example, I carry a 5-in-one multi-tool that includes a small shovel, a saw, a small camp axe and a pickaxe all in one unit. Also, I found a hand-cranked radio/flashlight combo, complete with a USB charging port and adapters for just about every cell phone out there, for around $40.
You also need to include season-appropriate clothing (this should be rotated in and out throughout the year). I use Ziploc vacuum-sealed garment storage bags to save space. You should plan on at least 2 pairs of pants, 2 or 3 shirts, underwear, 5 pairs of socks (wet feet will knock you out of the game in no time flat) and outerwear as needed for the season.
You may want to add a tube tent (these are very thin plastic, not a good option for long-term camping, but they do a great job for emergency shelter from the elements). Barring that, consider putting in more mylar blankets – they are a great building block for decent shelters in addition to their ability to conserve body heat).
In terms of food, I recommend having a few freeze-dried meals (Mountain House or similar), as well as energy bars, dried fruit and nuts, stuff that’s easy to carry and prepare. I know that some people don’t want to carry anything that requires cooking of any type, but the freeze-dried meals only require boiling water, and the excellent nutritional value makes them worth the effort, in my opinion.
Finally, once everything is assembled, make a list of all of your “stuff”. As you place it in your bag, note on the list where you put it. When the list is complete, put the list in a sealed Ziploc bag (or get it laminated) and put it in an easily accessible part of the bag. That way, when you are trying to remember where you put the firestarters, you won’t end up dumping the entire contents out on the ground trying to find them.
All that’s left to do now is place your BOB where it will be useful. If you spend a lot of time away from home, I recommend keeping it in your car. If you spend more time at home, keep it in an area that’s accessible on the way out the door.
Well, that’s all I have for now. Any ideas or additions to this list are most welcome!