By August 17, 2011 Read More →

Bug Out Bags for Women

This article is a part of  
The Free Online Survival Guide 

from the blog Sibi Totique
Bug Out Bags for Women
The Survivalist is often envisioned being a man. But many of those how are Survivalist or Preppers are women, blogs like The Survival Mom and Survival Goddess are just two examples of this. Both men and women has the same basic need when it comes to Survival so the other articles about Bug Out Bags are just as relevant to women as for men. The purpose of this article is mainly to show discuss the small difference that exists between women and men and show some of the products that are especially designed for women.It’s up to you
First of all: A Bug Out Bag is a tool. It provides you with some equipment that can make it easier to deal with emergencies and disasters. But You matter more than Your Bug Out Bag and Your Equipment. A Bug Out Bag is not very useful if you lack the skills and experience to use the items that you carry in it or the strength and physical fitness required to carry it.

Health and Physical Fitness
Women in general have less muscle mass and a higher percentage of fat on their bodies compared to men. Some experts make the general assessment that men should not carry more than one third of their body weight and women no more than one forth of their body weight. Women in general have a harder time to build as much muscles as men, this does not however mean that women cannot improve their strength to a high degree; you can improve the load that you can carry and the distance you can carry it drastically with the right training and diet. I suggest that you try to find forms of training that both increase your strength and stamina. There are also large individual differences; there are women that can carry heavier packs for longer distances than most men could. Women in general needs less calories per day than a man; but this is also affected by other factors like age, metabolism, muscle mass and weight.

Skills and Experience
When it comes to skills and experiences only your own interests and desire to learn new skills is the only limit. Women can learn the same skills and get the same experiences as any man could. This is as I view it the most critical aspect of your efforts. Your Pack and Equipment can get lost or may not be with you when you need them. Your skills and experience is always with you. Here knowing your strengths and weaknesses is also critical; if you can’t walk ten miles without a pack you won’t be able to walk 20 with a heavy pack.

Equipment designed for Women
Basically all survival equipment works just as well for as for men. There are some pieces of equipment that are designed for women. One example is the Fällkniven WM-1 is a Compact Fixed Blade Survival Knife. The WM-1 is designed to be used by women and people with small hands. Some other companies have simply taken products that they already make and changed the color of the handles to pink in order to market them to women. Just like changing the color of cover of computer or iPhone it does not change the performance of the product, even if a knife with a pink handle is much easier to find in the terrain if you would drop it compared to a knife with a black “tactical” handle. Some examples of knives that are available with pink handles or blades are the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, SOG Flash 1 Pink, Kershaw Scallion Pink, Spyderco Native Pink and the ESEE Izula.

Merino wool is one of the best materials that you have when it comes to survival and crisis situations. It does not cool your body like cotton when it gets wet, it dries quickly, it’s resistant to odors and it does not melt and burn like base layers made from synthetic materials. The only disadvantage as I see it is that products made from merino wool are relatively expensive. Some companies like Icebreaker and Smartwool actually has more products available for women than men, and they also have products that has a design that makes them a good alternative to carry on an everyday basis and not just for Bug Out Bags. In short: You do not have to sacrifice comfort for looks, something that is not as easy if one is a man and wants to buy products from these companies. You can find all types of products made from merino wool like tops, socks, base layers, underwear, dresses and caps.

Your clothing must be adjusted to you particular climate, terrain, setting and season. A set of clothing that works well for an Urban Desert setting does not work very well in an Arctic Wilderness setting. Shell Clothing provides a good shield against wind, rain and snow and also “breathes”. If you have a shell jacket and shell pants you can often make do without rain clothing. There are however extreme situations when rain clothing may be better than shell clothing. Shell clothing lacks insulation so you must get base layers and mid layers as insulation. This concept makes it possible to vary your clothing according to season, weather and temperature by simply changing how many layer you use. A poncho can be good but it can be good to get a pair of light weight rain trousers as a complement.

Your footwear is a critical aspect if you have to make an evacuation on foot or if you have to walk long distances. Get the best hiking boots that you can afford and high quality merino wool socks in combination with a pair of thicker wool socks. Breaking in the boots is also critical; otherwise you risk getting blisters after walking only a short distance.

Suggestion for Clothing:
[ ] Shell Jacket
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants or Shell Pants
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Scarf, Shemag of Buff
[ ] Cap or Hat
[ ] Short Sleeve Base layer
[ ] Mid layer
[ ] Thin Merino Wool Hiking Socks
[ ] Thick Wool Socks
[ ] Hiking Boots

Bug Out Bag for Women: Suggestion For a Setup
Total Weight Bug Out Bag: 9,723kg (21,4 pounds)

On Person
[ ] Watch: Suunto Lumi 64g
[ ] Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle 3g

Backpack 2,72kg
[ ] Osprey W Xenon 70 2540g
[ ] Exped Drysacks Medium (8 liters) and Large (13 liters) (52g+66g) 118g

Shelter and Clothing 2,78kg
[ ] Buff Slim Fit 30g
[ ] Haglöfs Ozo Q Pullover Jacket 155g
[ ] Haglöfs LIM Q Pants 265g
[ ] 2 Pairs of Icebreaker W Hike Lite Merino Wool Socks
[ ] Exped Downmat 7 S 780g
[ ] Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardware W Wave III 1550g

Light 0,04
[ ] 4Sevens Preon 1 (17g+11,5g) 29g
[ ] 1 Extra AAA Battery 11,5g

Fire 0,037kg
[ ] Fire Steel: Light My Fire Mini and Striker 14g
[ ] BIC Lighter 14g
[ ] 2 Pieces of WetFire Tinder (4,5g+4,5g) 9g

Survival Knives 0,135kg
[ ] Fällkniven WM-1 Fixed Blade Knife 70g
[ ] Victorinox Climber Swiss Army Knife 85g

Pocket Survival Kit 0,151kg
[ ] Adventure Medical Kits SOL Scout 151g

Water 2,278kg
[ ] Camelbak Antidote Reservoir 2 liter (2000g+200g) 2,2kg
[ ] Water Purification Filter: Camelbak Fresh Reservoir Filter 28g
[ ] Water Purification Tablets: Lifesystems Chlorine Dioxide Tablets 50g

Food 0,904kg
[ ] 6 Mountain House Freeze Dried Rations (108g per ration) 648
[ ] 3 Maxim Femiline Protein Bar (40g per bar) 120g
[ ] Honey Stinger Energy Chew (50g per bag) 100g
[ ] Vargo Titanium ULV Spoon / Fork / Knife Set 36g

Hygiene and First Aid 0,431kg
[ ] Pierrot Oral Care Set 154g
[ ] Sea To Summit Light Toiletry Bag Small 80g
[ ] Metolius Hand Repair Balm 14g
[ ] Sea To Summit Body Wash 90g
[ ] MSR Medium Packtowl Personal Medium 50g
[ ] GoGirl 43g

Navigation and Other Equipment 0,247kg
[ ] Cammenga Phosphorescent Wrist Compass 37g
[ ] Topographical Map 100g
[ ] Fisher Space Pen Bullet 20g
[ ] Rite-In-The-Rain Notebook 4” x 6” 90g
[ ] Passport
[ ] Immunization Card
[ ] Cash (Some bills and coins)

Summary Suggestion for a Setup
The total weight of this setup land just under 10 kilograms. Both the sleeping bag and sleeping mattress are designed to withstand rather low temperatures. Other equipment like the Shell Jacket, Shell Pants, Flashlight and the Fire Starter Kit is chosen to minimize weight. Combining the Fällkniven WM-1 and the Victorinox Climber you get the strength and reliability of fixed blade full tang knife in combination with the versatility of a Swiss Army Knife. The Pocket Survival Kit from SOL contains some critical items that you can keep on your person at all times in case you would be separated from your pack. The Hygiene Kit contains some basic items and could be complemented with other necessities, The GoGirl is an urination tool for women so that they can go anywhere they like, cutting a soda bottle just under the neck of the bottle can work as a low budget version.

This suggestion, like all other suggestions for setups is simply intended to give you some ideas and inspirations when building your own Bug Out Bag. There are an almost unlimited amount of items on the market to choose from; choose items that fits your needs and budget.

If you are planning to Bug Out together with others as a Group you will also have to find solutions for shelter and cooking for the Group. If you are just building a Bug Out Bag for one person you might want to consider a light weight tent like the Hilleberg Akto (1600g) or the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 (581g). A Hennesy Hammock could be another alternative. Multi Purpose Shelters like the Fjellduk from Helsport (775g) and Bivanorak from Hilleberg (520g) can be used both as bivi-bags, tarps and ponchos.

If you are looking for a light weight stove I would recommend that you get a compact gas stove like the Soto OD-1R Micro Regulator Stove (78g), MSR Pocket Rocket (86g) or Optimus Crux Lite (72g) in combination with a wind shield, light weight cooking vessels and a 100g or 220g gas tube. A Gas Stove is very easy to use and regulate the temperature, but for winter settings a multi fuel stove works better. Other equipment that can be good to include is an extra pair of footwear, GPS, a SPOT for signaling for help, trekking poles or a compact radio.

How Long Must You Be Able To Support Yourself?
A Bug Out Bag is often referred to as 72 hour kit being designed for limited amount of time designed to get you from point A to point B. If a Disaster would strike that would force you to leave your Home there is no way to know how long you will have to support yourself. It can be a question of only a few hours if you have the access to vehicle and the roads are clear, but it can also be a question of an extended period of time. Large scale disasters like an Earthquake, Hurricane or Tsunami may destroy infrastructure and the roads can be blocked by thousands of cars when whole cities are evacuated. Having an extra ID-Card / Passport, Insurance Information and your Immunization Card may also be critical during travel and in the aftermath of disaster.

A Bug Out Bag may end up being used for other tasks than this; purifying water in your Home or cooking food if the electrical grid would go down, search and rescue or other tasks. It is fully possible to build a Light Weight Bug Out Bag with much less equipment, a Bug Out Bag for an Urban Setting or Building a Bug Out Bag on a Budget.

The Bug Out Bag is only a small part of being prepared of Disasters or Crisis Situation. The Most important aspect of preparedness is your own knowledge, health and physical fitness, skills and experience and your will to survive. If you want to be prepared for an evacuation planning ahead and making a Bug Out Plan is also a good start. Choose products that you want and need for your everyday life, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities; you should use your equipment; not just keep in a pack just in case. This way you can enjoy the investment you made; learn the skills you need and find out what works and what doesn’t work for you.

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2 Comments on "Bug Out Bags for Women"

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  1. Pamela G says:

    I am new to preparedness and came across this article. WOW! Very comprehensive. I’m very impressed! I would just make ONE extremely important addition under the hygiene and first aid tab: please suggest a reusable menstrual cup. In use I think it’s kind of gross, because of the clean up, but you clean up once rather than have stuff dribbling down your leg or soaking your clothes and you don’t have to pack tampons. EVER.  Here is one brand that I have known about for years: There may be others on the market as well. Women should practice with the urinal and a  menstrual cup at home so they are more adept at using one in a survival situation. On a side note, both men AND women should have condoms in their personal hygiene kits. No sense getting pregnant unless you absolutely want to in a survival or crisis situation. I hope you decide to amend your list to include these. Thank you! 

  2. Joe says:

    This was wonderfully written, and it is evident that the author is literally a pro. And, while I think this to be a great article, I should point out that (perhaps because of its apparently European origin) many of the items are rather expensive and some weigh a considerable amount. For example, The Osprey Exnon 70 liter backpack in a medium weighs about 5 lbs.– This is just for the pack–empty! That is way too heavy for something to carry other stuff in. A good backpack is available for about `1 1/2 lbs. The recomendation of knives–like the Falkniven–which is a knife that retails at over $160.00 USD is a total waste when in the survival community, the standard is a Mora knife in its various configurations which retails at $15.00 USD and is completely sized for the female hand. The idea of two knives is redundant the Mora will fulfill all your needs (is it as good as a Falkniven with its laminated stainless steel? No, but it is 90% as good) (but to be honest, a good well sharpened kitches paring knife will do almost as much–and it is free since you already have it in the kitchen–just make sure that you know how to sharpen it!). The author makes a good point about the issue of a Bug out Bag and it being a 72 hour bag, then includes items like bag a body wash. If you are in an emergency, the LAST thing you are concerned about will be whether you have a wiff of body odor. The author makes the excellent point of indicating that these are just suggestions, and of course she is correct. It is obvious that just by the thoughtful nature of her choices she has not only experience, but has spent much time thinking these things thru. With respect to the sleeping bag, one must keep in mind that you should not have a sleeping bag rolled up constantly in compression since with synthetics, you ruin its loft. With a down bag, it is not so critical, but you still do damage to the bag if it is perpetually rolled up and no mfg of sleeping bags recommends keeping a bag rolled up–it voids the warranty. Given that reality, perhaps it would be better to keep a fleece liner as part of the BOB–not nearly as good as a sleeping bag (except during the summer, but certainly much better than nothing and it CAN be rolled up constantly without compromising its effectiveness). (Oh, and let us not forget the sleeping pad–which is very important. And in my opinion, you would be better off with a synthetic bag anyway since while the down bag is considerably lighter, it does not have the level of versatility of the synthetic bag and is not as appropriate in wet weather which can encompass 80% of a year’s time. The issue of a compass is also an important one considering that the wrist compass does not allow you to take a bearing reading, nor is a sufficient to take declination into consideration. While I get the idea of using a wrist compass to just take a general bearing, note that the cost of the wrist compass is 3X higher than a small compass that IS capable of taking bearing readings and compensating for declination so I really do not get the point. Furthermore the issue of base layers and the use of merino wool is a personal choice–albight an expensive one. A cheap pair of Walmarts polyester underwear is actually better than Merino wool, because 1) some people are allergic to wool, 2) wool absorbs moisture and holds it–poly does not. 3) it is 1/3 to 1/4 the price.. And rather than the high end gear, you are just as well off with a Walmart or Cabelas Windbreaker (2 times you regular size please): a fleece jacket fleece or polyfill vest, fleece pants and some cheap nylon workout pants–also from Walmart–that would cover 80% of any activity you could run into and it is cheap and disposable and most likely you have it in the house a;ready and don’t have to resort to purchasing more junk you don’t need. The author mentions Mountain House freeze dried food, but I think for a bug out bag that is a very poor choice–though a great one for camping. Note she does not have a stove included in her list. You are much better off taking some power bars, Or even sea rations that have high calories and long storage and require no fire to consume and mix. Not that in a 72 hour emergency, it is highly probable that you will not have the option of lighting a fire unless you are in a rural environment–and by far majority of people live in the cities and suburbs. They are also considerably cheaper than freeze dried and have a year long shelf life. I would also nix the firesteel as most women(and men) are not sufficiently experienced in its use and go with some emergency matches (other than Coughlins–like the excellent REI emergency matches) less expensive than a firesteel and will more than do with a 72 hour bag–and there is no learning curve! One very important thing not mentioned is rain gear. You can go with a poncho and you should purchase some 6 mill poly sheet from (again a store like Walmart in USA) and cut yourself two 10X10 sheets 1) to make a tent/ground cloth, 2) to make a wind break when out in a bushlike environment. For most of us, this would make an more than adequate shelter, and is the lightest shelter one can obtain. However for those that cannot stand the idea of having bugs crawling on you, one can obtain a single person tent. Do not get a tent that allows multiple people for sanitary reasons (and weight) . You’re always better off alone (unless you have small children) because proximity breeds disease. And rather than a camelback hydration system, two 32 oz pop bottle containers is actually better because you can have one container purifying your water while you drink out of the other –and they are free! And with the Camebacks, they are a pain because every so often they need to be “bleached” to kill mold, mildew and germs in the body and drinking tubes. The pop bottles are maintenance free (when your pop bottles become icky–treat yourself to some more pop–you deserve it–and get your free containers! What I find particularly fascinating about this article is the awkward way a 72 hour back drifts into a backpacking experience which in theory it is not what it is supposed to be. This is not the author’s fault, but rather the prepping industry’s demand that a BOB be all things to all people–which it is not. A BOB should not be a camping scenario even though you may spend some time on the ground. A BOB should be whatever you need to get you thru a few nights of a very uncomfortable emergency situation. Note that a 70 liter backpack is way overkill. There is a tendency of all people–especially women–to fill the backpack to its brim–at which point you are now carrying 40-50lbs or more. For 98% of women that are not hardcore backpackers, this is completely unrealistic. Only a very tiny percentage of todays women could comfortably carry such a heavy load. Think of it this way…if you weigh 125 lbs, you are carrying close to 40% of your body weight in gear–completely unrealistic for today’s couch potatos.) You are much better off getting something like a 30/40 liter backpack and work you way back (I mean get a smallest backpack and the lightest) and fill it with only those necessities that will actually fit in it. This will literally force you to pick and choose. That is the best way to do it. Oh, and for hiking shoes, I would not recommend them, but rather purchase a pair of running shoes that are oversized to fit heavy wool socks. That will be cheaper than hiking shoes and do almost as good a job. But the key is to bring your liner socks, very heavy wool socks and find some shoes (do NOT look at the size) that will actually fit comfortably with all your socks on. The idea here is they not be tight, but comfortably loose since you feet will swell as you walk. You might also consider purchasing this running shoes in a style that allows a recess underneath your arch to facilitate the wearing of gaitors. the one thing that I have found in the field is I love gaitors. They allow you to traverse a relatively muddy area without having your pants be coated with mud because of the way we walk. Gaitors for me are a must have item. They greatly increase your cleanliness. And, they are easy to clean and dry Now having said all the above, let’s again look are some more reality. The reality is that there is nothing wrong with carrying a bunch of stuff in your car and bugging out of a car. For 90% of the people this will be the most likely scenario–especially if you are married and have children that require constant maintenance. In this stituation, I think it irresponsible to think of bugging out as this author presents it. In 97% of the circumstances, if you pay attention, you can get by with getting out of dangerous scenarios with children and older adults. The real key here is preparation–that is knowing when to get out. In almost every situation in disaster management, we find that people procrastinate and wait till the last minute to prepare. The reality is that if you are looking at a hurricane, tornado, flood of loss of power and water; with today’s technology, we are well aware of impending danger. Rule #1–if you have kids–get out! You’ll just make it harder on yourself. Find relatives in a non disaster designated area that you can leave a woman and children. No point in making everyone’s life miserable. Even if you have to stay at a motel or hotel in a different state, it’s a lot better than having to deal with a disaster situation with not only the cleanup and the stress of handling a disaster, but having to maintain children as well.

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