THE BUG-OUT BAG
Also know as survival backpack, has become the symbolic icon of Preppers. The bug-out bagt is a backpack with everything you need to survive for up to 3 days (minimum) in the worst conditions after a disaster. A Prepper should start the basic survival training by learning the importance of having a backpack with survival gears or tools and learn how to properly use each item in that backpack. A bug-out bag is like a seat belt, which always have its functions and almost never makes its functions, but the least expected day saves your life. For this reason having a bug-out bag is a must, although it seems a waste of money (for some people) and maybe you will never use it, but again, it is better to have it and hope that you never need it. But one day it may save your life.
Nowadays there are so many options to choose from. Different sizes, designs, materials, from single compartment backpacks to tactical special ops styles and military style “molle” extension systems. There are backpacks for all budgets, colors and tastes. A good Prepper must know how to choose a backpack that has enough cubic capacity to accommodate all the basic equipment that are essential requirements to ensure survival in the worst conditions. I had to learn the hard way, there is a saying in Puerto Rico, “lo barato sale caro” (you get what you pay for) and for that reason I had bought equipment and in this case backpacks that look good and were very inexpensive but made of cheap material. Consequently the backpack started to cause problems, the cheap nylon showed wear too quickly, the seams began to tear up, the zippers got broken and I couldn’t accommodate all my equipment and therefore it was a total waste of my money.
Bug-Out Bags Types
This backpack that maybe could get at Wal-Mart or other similar stores is relatively inexpensive (under $ 20), is very small (1200cu) and does not have enough compartments to divide your gear.
This backpack is also easy to get and relatively inexpensive ($ 20- $ 30), is medium in size (2100cu) has 3 compartments and can be used as a secondary pack or for the use of a family member with light gear.
This backpack is also another medium size (2100cui) bag, but completely expandable with “molle” system, where you can add smaller compartments and are attached between the strips of nylon located in the front and sides of the backpack. It is totally waterproof nylon and tested to withstand seams up to 2,000 pounds of pressure. Its cost is between $ 70- $ 120. It is a good investment and there are so many options to choose from brands, sizes, colors. This specific model is the Tactical “Rush 24” from 5.11. But as I said before in other articles, there are many more brands to choose from and all with good quality, but you have to pay the right price.
When shopping for a backpack (unless is online of course), wear the backpack on your back with something heavy inside to see how comfortable it is. There are backpacks that look good but are nothing closed to the word “comfortable” to wear.
Molle Pack System – known as “Molle” modular system was introduced during the war in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and replacement of the famous “ALICE” pack system that was base on belts connected to each other’s (web gear). The modular system gives you the benefit of choosing different “mini packs” of different sizes and designs and are easily adapted to the main pack using a nylon webbing. This modular system adds tremendously (cubic inches) more space for your gear and allows you to have a variety of equipment in your backpack and thus can be separated by compartments. Excellent alternative for Preppers.
Bug-out bags must always be accessible at home, preferably near the front door, since the purpose is that if you have to leave the house in an emergency, quickly grab the backpack and leave everything else behind until you can return back to the house. There are emergencies that require us to stay at home and for that we have our main equipment and gear, for use exclusively in the house (kitchen equipment, 2 burners emergency stove, gas lamps or batteries lamps, base communications radios, canned food, reserve equipment, water, and more). In the backpack everything has to be very small or micro-size and made exclusively for portable use. Many “backpackers” or “globe trekker” fans, are related to equipment designed to be carry in a backpack, which occupy less space and are extremely lighter. As a Prepper you don’t want to have a bug-out bag that weighs more than 50 pounds and you must be in “a good” physical condition to walk for long hours if necessary.
I have my own personal theory about survival that I want to share. If you are at home the bug-out bag plays an important role if an earthquake strikes. At the time of the earthquake when everything begins to shake wildly and there is a possibility that the house could collapse, in my opinion, you should run quickly and grab your backpack and seek protection in the same place. If you get trapped in the rubble, by having the bug-out bag with you, it will increase the chances of survival as you have the necessary gear to do so. For the same reasons, I recommend that the bug-out bag must be accessible at all times and not hiding in a closet or in the garage. Remember that a strong earthquake will only give you a few seconds to react and move before the house can begin to collapse.
Another option is to have more than one bug-out bags (at least 2) around the house and especially an extra one in the room where you sleep, a lot of times tragedy occurs while you’re sleeping.
What You Must Have In Your Bug-Out Bag?
Water – You must have drinking water for at least 3 days. Water can be in plastic bottles (BPA free), plastic bags. It is recommended in a stainless steel container. Keep water rotation (every 6 months). Have some sort of system for portable water filtration in case you find water in your escape.
Food – The food must be compacted (small packages). Many Preppers use dehydrated food (you will need more water in your BOB), military food rations (MREs) or zip-lock bags with your favorite survival food.
Portable stoves – There are many models to choose from. I personally have 2 different models that works with solid fuel. You also need matches, lighters, magnesium rods, and other alternatives to light a fire for warmth, water purification and cooking.
Fire – you must have several options, don’t just rely on one option.
- Matches, make sure they are waterproof or moisture, there’s you-tube videos that teach you how to make your matches waterproofed.
- The lighter or lighters are recommended to be transparent to make it easy to see how much fuel is left.
- Magnesium bars, learn to use them and do not wait for the time of crisis to know how they are used.
Prepared in advance your combustion material to facilitate the ignition of a fire. Many Preppers stored collected lint from the dryer in zip-lock bags (most material collected is cotton and ignites easily), others do cotton balls with petroleum gel and others do the pieces of char-clothes (which for me is the best option of all), there’s videos on you-tube on how to make them.
Lighting – Lighting is also an important item to pack and should use more than one alternative. Nowadays with the introduction of small LED lanterns, you can have several of them without taking up too much space. Remember to have replacement batteries. A dynamo type flashlight (auto recharge based on a small manual generator integrated) it’s a plus. If you use candles, try to get those that are made with beeswax since they last longer, burn more brightly and generate more heat, so you can even use them to heat food or warm up your hands. Don’t forget to have a few chemical candle sticks, they come very handy sometimes.
Survival Knives – A Bug-out bag is not complete without some sort of survival knives. Invest in a good survival knife is not a luxury but an obligation. A good knife is an essential tool for a Prepper. In addition a knife is also a defensive weapon in the hands of a Prepper. Don’t forget to have a portable shovel, an ax and maybe a small machete that you can carry on the side of the bag.
Communications – Being well connected in times of crisis is extremely important. We must be alert to emergency bulletins, depending on the type of crisis, the alerts can be roads that are open for local traffic, or points of water and food collection and medical emergencies triage locations. You can have from a small AM and FM radio, or “weather alert” radio type, capable of self-recharging and does not require batteries. You can also have a two ways “ham radio” to communicate with emergency services or other Preppers in your area (for this one you need to have a FCC license). You can buy a “two way walkie-talkie” radio and some of them cover great distances and no FCC licenses are required. You could also buy a 4 radio kit and use them all in the same channel, for the family to stay connected.
Housing – In a situation where you have to be outdoors until you receive help, have some coverage against weather inclement is very important and especially is a mental boost under stress conditions. Having a roof against the sun and rain is important and more the sense of privacy offered, this provides moral support as you relate to a shelter (home) that belongs to you. Of course, having a full sized tent, the ones used for camping are too big and heavy to have in your backpack, but the tents that are a single tarp with a rope are a good choice for a temporary shelter against the weather. Two people can sleep in them, so you can have an emergency tent for every two backpacks. Don’t forget to have thermal blankets and gloves, sometimes nighttime can get a bit chill. Also I recommend to include an extra change of clothes (especially underwear and sox), and always takes into account the material that is made of, because you don’t want to increase the weight of your backpack. Also make a small zip-lock bag with toiletries.
First Aid Kit – Part of our preparation as Preppers is to administer first aid to ourselves and our family members. Many have some kind of kit with plastic bandages (Band-Aids) and aspirins and other goods, but it is recommended to have some sort of trauma kit, to treat deep wounds, sutures, tourniquets, infections and other medical situations on common emergency crisis . You can attach a medical pouch to the “molle” system, not taking up space in the main pack and be easy to detach in case of having to take care of someone, that way you don’t have to take the main bag with you.
All these article mentioned are basically the main things to keep in your survival backpack or bug-out bag. You can add other things, for example, a kitchen kit (mess kit), a gas mask, ropes, firearms, personal documents, money, navigation equipment (maps, compasses, GPS) paper and pencil, playing cards, fishing equipment (fishing line, hooks, a buoy and a weight), a signal mirror, and anything else that you think necessary to have with you. Just be always minded of the total weight of your bag. Learn how to properly distribute the weight in the backpack so you can make long walks if necessary.
A Boricua Prepper is always prepared. Use this information if you’re buying your first bug-out bag or already have one and you’re thinking about getting a second one. If you are about to buy your first bag, do not buy the first one that you see, take your time, look at various models and compared one with the other. Take into account the quality of products and the size, it is sometimes better to pay a little more and have high quality equipment, remember that your life and your family’s will depend on this investment someday.
Blessings and wisdom from God in everything that you do…
Boricua Prepper always PREPARED!!