Bugging Out – What to Bring and How to Prepare When You Have to Evac
With all the news we have al been reading these days, preparation no longer seems to be an option. Whether it be a natural disaster, civil disorder, or full-scale TEOTWAWKI, (The End Of The World As We Know It), most of us feel the need to prepare for scarcity of food, potable water, and potential strife. Being able to hunker down in a shelter in a familiar area that is also loaded with food, water, and other goodies gives us a feeling of safety, and a decided advantage over those who would have to rely on assistance from others.
Have you ever considered traveling during a worst case scenario? What would it entail? How long would it take? What if your vehicle is disabled or the roads are impassable? What if your primary route is blocked by debris, or is a controlled checkpoint? What about crowds? Riots? Individuals who are desperate? While the everyday commute is part of everyday life that is during usual circumstances. How would your trip to work look if there was a major earthquake, a flash flood, or (as happened to me in Seattle in 1999) riots in the streets when you tried to go home?
The most dangerous time would be traveling. You are out of your comfort zone, and while you would probably be in familiar territory, it would most likely be hostile. Imagine traveling with overpasses collapsed, or surface streets blocked by downed power lines. While most people would be alert leaving and getting close to their destination, the urge to be lax while hoofing it or driving would be tempting.
One thing that would make such a situation easier to handle is a bag filled with what you need to deal with such an event. Mostly called “bug-out bags”, these are usually backpacks filled with gear and equipment to make such an excursion more manageable.
Most items you will need you already have, albeit scattered around your house. Having them all in one place, ready to go, makes life easier if something ever happens. And no matter how well you think you know where everything is, you will forget something in an emergency.
After much trial and error, I have put together a bag that works for my survival strategy. While every person’s situation is different, I have some basic information that should help some in this endeavor.
1. Use a backpack, such as a large daypack with good padded shoulder straps and a hip belt. Even if you are driving, what if the road is blocked or (CT here) an EMP is detonated? You cannot always figure on having your vehicle. A good sturdy pack is essential.
2. Break in your pack beforehand. Adjust the stays (if they are internal) and get used to it. Figure out what is going in what pockets. The items you need to keep handy (gloves, lights, compass, etc.) should arranged in the outer pockets. It will take some trial runs to determine what goes where.
3. Figure the worst case scenario. How long will it take to get to your destination on foot? If bridges are washed out or controlled, your detours can get ugly. For me, I have to cross a major river. What obstacles are in your way? The most likely impediment will be people around you who are panicking.
4. How many will be traveling? While it sounds good to break up major equipment, think on that one carefully. What if you get separated and the guy with the first aid kit is missing?
5. Have the majority of your supplies at your bug-out destination. Every pound you carry impedes your ability to maneuver. You have to go minimalist when you are bugging out.
6. You really should use your pack a few times in a drill situation. I have done this a few times; staying in an older home I have access to, and lived in the home for two days from the contents of my pack. I added a few items and took out some things I found I had no use for. I have also driven out to the Olympics, and stayed the night just from my bag. It was not comfortable, but I know it is doable.
Items I have in my Bag:
1. Adventure Medical “Day Tripper” First Aid Kit is designed for all-day hikes or short overnight trips, with a wide selection of medications, wound dressings, and instruments. I have added to it, including some trauma items. I keep a SAM Splint in my vehicle, and that would be added if I had to abandon it. http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=232&catname=Mountain&prodname=Day%20Tripper
2. Bottle of Water. I keep one handy and swap it out on occasion. I will discuss an excellent purifier later.
3. Platypus Collapsible Water Bottle I have used this thing for years, and it keeps going. These are collapsible and with a minimal amount of care, work great. http://www.cascadedesigns.com/platypus/handheld-hydration/softbottle/product
4. GSI Outdoors Lexan Coffee Cup. Lightweight and a ton of uses. Although I have decided to forgo a stove in my bag (I can change that in about sixty seconds), a cup is very useful to have around. I looked for a link; I guess these are no longer made. I know REI carries something similar. Avoid think steel mugs such as what Coleman makes. The handle heats up fast.
5. Insect Repellant. Use the highest DEET content you can find. You might even want to carry a mosquito net that covers your head.
6. Hard Shell Water Bottle. This is a very durable water bottle I mostly use for carrying small items. It is part of a kit carried by Cheaper Than Dirt. http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CAMP350-1.html
7. Personal Hygiene Bag. This is actually the bag my razor came in. It is a very high quality bag. I have some Aleve, aspirin, and Alka-Seltzer in it. I also keep basic items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash. Deodorant, moist towelettes, and things like that are in there as well.
8. Floppy lightweight hat. This one is from Columbia and has a mesh inner liner. It has as chin strap and I have to use it when it is windy. This is an easily overlooked item. It keeps the sun and the rain off of my neck and face. A sunburned neck and shoulder straps do not mix at all.
9. Clothing. I carry six pair of wicking socks, three pair of undies, and a sweater in here. I also have a spare T-shirt and my old Navy coveralls. I expect to get wet when hiking in so I feel it is important to carry a few extra items.
10. Solio Solar Charger. This is the Solio Classic. It folds down for storage and has an internal battery. I can attach it to my pack to charge as I go. I use it for the iPod I keep in here. I can also charge my cellular from it, if need be. It may sound small, but something to take my mind off bugging out may be nice. Just keep in mind you need to be in a secure location to listen to Abba. http://www.solio.com/charger/solio-charger-comparison-chart.html
11. Combination Hatchet, Hammer, and Claw. I have no idea where I picked this thing up; I have had it for years. It just works like a total champ. You can probably find something similar at Harbor Freight Tools.
12. Pistol. I have recently changed my preference here, and have gone back to my beloved M92FS. Reliability and confidence with a weapon is paramount if you actually have to use it. Have enough spare magazines to get you to your destination. While a longarm would be preferable, I feel it is better to be inconspicuous.
13. Spare Water Filter. This is the Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System. I have used it to filter standing water, and it does work. They filter 20 gallons per filter. Basically, it is a straw with a filter on it. (Note – this filter will fit in the hydration tube of most Israeli gas masks, including the M-4 and the M-15) http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CAMP174-1.html
14. 50 feet of nylon para cord.
15. M-4 Israeli Gas Mask. This item may be a little far-fetched, but tear gas is not fun. I carry the M-4 instead of the M-15, even though it has more restricted visibility. The M-4 will seal even over glasses. Each filter is good for between 4-8 hours, depending on the conditions you are in. These are available on eBay for around thirty dollars. (Editors Note: I have researched these recently, and the prices have gone up around $20)
16. Clif Bars are the tastiest energy bars I have ever had. There are a lot of flavors, as well. I carry sixteen of them.
17. Lightweight Camping trowel. I also carry a roll of TP. This is something you don’t want to forget.
18. Atwater Carey Camp Towel. This has multiple uses. Mine is a fairly large model, and I punched a couple of holes in it so it can dry on the go. It could be used as a sling, or as a trauma pad.
19. GSI Outdoors Watertight Case. In here I keep an extra ID, Heath Insurance Cards, and three hundred dollars in 10’s and 20’s. http://www.gsioutdoors.com/products/pdp/lexan_n-case_420-_smoke/
20. Kleen-Bore Pock-it Gun Cleaning Kit. I keep this in my hygiene bag. It is very compact, and easy to use. http://secure.armorholdings.com/kleen-bore/product384.html
21. Sporks. Just in case.
22. Tealights. I keep a couple of these in case I want light without a flashlight. I also keep some matches from some old MRE’s handy.
23. Nite-Ize Headband. This will hold a flashlight securely to your head, and has a Velcro closure. It will come loose only with a lot of jostling. I use a 7-LED light I got for free from Harbor Freight. http://www.niteize.com/collections/general-illumination/products/headband
24. One more flashlight.
25. Solar Powered Flashlight. This one has a battery that is replaceable, as well as an internal battery. It will charge in a day, and last all night. It is sold at Costco in a two pack for around $20. It has been a durable light.
26. Extra Food. I keep some Tuna Salad and Kippered Herring. Just in case the Clif Bars get old.
27. Packets of Honey. This is a very good quick boost of sugar.
28. Smith & Wesson Smith Tool. Note: I have replaced this item with my trusty Victoronix Swiss Tool (http://www.swissarmy.com/MultiTools/Pages/Product.aspx?category=doityourself&product=53905& ). The edges are smooth, and the shanks on the screwdrivers are longer. Plus all the tips and blades lock. Safety with any blade will be the most important thing, as your stress level will be high and you may not be thinking as you normally do.
29. Gloves. I keep heavy leather gloves, as well as a pair of Kevlar-reinforced gloves. Make sure your gloves are broken in.
30. Emergency Space Bags and Poncho. I used these for picture purposes only. I have tried these in real life, and aside from the crinkling, they do work as advertised. The spare poncho is only as a last resort. Keep a good set of raingear in your vehicle. Helly-Hanson makes good lightweight suits that have the advantage of being packable.
31. Nite-Ize S-biners. These have a variety of uses, from drying my towel to holding my Solio when it is charging to pretty much anything you can think of. http://www.niteize.com/products/s-biner-stainless-steel-1
32. Magnesium Firestarter. This comes in the kit with the water bottle I described in #6. It works well. I also carry a couple of lighters, and some Esbit fuel pellets.
33. Fox 40 Whistle. This is the loudest whistle I have ever heard. A friend of mine is a soccer referee, and he told me about these. http://www.fox40world.com/
34. Signal Mirror. This one has a red side, as well as a sighting lens. It is heavy glass, so I keep it in a padded leather bag.
35. Silva Ranger Compass. Learn to use your compass for more than finding north. Learn about taking a bearing off of a landmark, orienting it to a map, and declension.
36. Garmin eTrex. This is the original eTrex. The “bread crumb” feature is very helpful. I also carry three days worth of spare batteries. Truth be told, you should know your routes to your destination well enough not to need this. https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=6403&ra=true#etrex
37. Most Towelettes. I keep several of these in my hygiene bag. Don’t leave home without them.
38. Super Glue. This can be used to seal a wound (it stings) or repair your gloves or boots. A very handy item to have around. I keep it in a plastic tube to prevent it from getting punctured and leaking.
39. Aquamira Frontier Emergency Water Filter System. Same as Item 13.
40. Gerber Locking Knife. A good knife is handy to have. Don’t skimp here. It should be a knife that is sharp, sturdy, and locks well.
All these items are useful for making it to your destination on foot. The most important thing to consider is weight and keeping your pack tight and close to your frame. If your ability to maneuver is compromised reconsider. You will be running, crawling, possibly climbing, and probably rolling around in the dirt.
Consider natural obstacles. How would you overcome these? Now add man made objects that are now impediments. What would that look like? Downed power lines, damaged overpasses, or bridges that no longer appears safe? It is wise to keep a set of sturdy boots in your vehicle, along with some extra clothes, right next to this bag that can be stored in your trunk. The most important thing you can do it think. To plan ahead, and consider an alternate route on foot while you are able to drive along it could be very valuable later.
It is good mental exercise to consider what may happen if there is a natural disaster, or if things get really bad in our country. By considering these things beforehand and coming up with a way to deal with them, you will be far ahead of the people who panic when it actually happens. Preparation and a cool head will carry you far.
Note: While my preparations work well for me, they will not work well for others. This bag assumes I will be traveling back to my house, where I will be safe. It has some contingencies for time in the field. It also has some contingencies in case I need to evacuate my home, due to an earthquake, chemical release, or other unforeseen event. Every person’s situation and needs are different. Spare medication should be kept in here, and rotated out, so if stays fresh. A spare pair of glasses in a hard case is important.