Monday 21 January 2008
I first thought about a bug-out-bag in the late 1990s, while working as a bartender in a Cincinnati downtown bar. During the Christmas season, many businesses had their company parties, and I had to work 2-3 parties per day. In between shifts, I would have to change shirts (we had to wear white dress shirts), and socks. My feet got wet after a few hours of running around in dress shoes, and repeated trips to the dishwasher station. Spilling mixed drinks and beer all over my clothes made things even worse.
At that time I never even heard the term “bug-out-bag”, I used a yellow gym bag. The idea came to me after several messy work days. It was nice to have a fresh shirt, clean pair of socks, and some food for the days the restaurant did not have any for it’s employees. This was also when I started going camping at the Red Rive Gorge. At first I used a school book-bag, but that proved to be too small, and uncomfortable. After a few trips, I purchased a used US Army ALICE pack (medium size, no frame). I bought it online after seeing one my friends carrying all of his gear in one, and nothing was tied outside, except for the sleeping bag. On that trip, I caught on to the idea of using surplus military gear for camping. Mil-surp stuff is cheap(er) than commercial equipment, and a lot more durable. The ALICE pack is not as comfortable as the commercial internal frame packs, but for the money, it served the purpose for several years. One of my friends bought a large ALICE pack with the frame, several canteens with pouches, e-tool, utility belt, and a GI first aid kit about the same time. Between the two of us, we could carry a weeks worth of food and gear for two to three people.
Fast forward to today…
As the years went by, I figured out what gear was necessary for a pleasant camping trip, what was nice, and what was a waste of space. I bought more camping gar, sold some of it, and got different equipment to satisfy my tastes. I will not bore you with the list of things in my camping pack, but if you are reading this, then obviously this page is somewhat interesting. Please continue to “On your belt” and then to the “In your pack” pages. The stuff on the utility belt is what I always take with me when hiking; the stuff in the rucksack is more gear that stays at the campsite. I treat my real bugout bag differently than the actual camping pack, but the contents are similar.
One of the major differences is the size of the items. On a normal camping trip, I plan on going out into the woods for two days, and making it back to civilization on Sunday. If you have to leave home unexpectedly, and cannot go to parents, relatives or friends, then things are not so good. You have to be prepared for anything, and I know I am not even close. In order to stuff as many useful items as I can think of, they have to be compact, and hopefully serve more than one purpose. Some items in the BOB are simply unnecessary on a regular camping trip. Things like extra medicine, extra rope, garbage bags, multi-tool, batteries are usually not used much. Some people may disagree with me, but after numerous camping trips, I have realized that some stuff is nice, and some never gets used. In a real bugout situation, whether you have to traipse through town, or go into the woods for an unknown period of time, these things may become a lifesaver. Anyway, onto the size and wight discussion… If you are out of your house, trying to make it, you are probably not very concerned with creature comforts too much. Things like daily showers, a comfortable bed, gourmet food and drinks are not of great importance. What does this mean for your BOB? First of all food and water. Because food has to be nutritious, and compact, you can forget about canned goods, marshmallows, and beer. Things that mean most are easy to make and eat meals. Peanut butter, Ramen noodles, jerky, energy bars are high in calories, and varied enough to suit most people’s tastes. If you want to get even fancier, Mountain House makes good freeze dried meats and sides that are very compact. I am not a big fan of MREs, and similar type of meals. Some people choose to pack fishing line, snares and other similar devices for catching game. I have never hunted or trapped, so these things would not be very useful. As far as water goes, I have a water filter in my BOB, and several canteens. This assumes that water is available, and not contaminated, but if it is, I am screwed. For shelter I rolled up a US GI poncho, and poncho liner. On a regular camping trip, I can afford the extra space and weight of a sleeping pad, a nicer sleeping bag, plus a tent. In a survival situation, all the weight and creature comfort is not necessary. Chancer are, there will be no reason to set up a tent, and get comfortable on your sleeping pad. If you have to be in the woods, or in an urban environment, you need to be alert and ready all the time.