By Henry Fu
A Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a survival pack that contains the essential supplies designed to keep you alive for a short period of time in a survival situation. It goes by many names to include 48 hour bag, Get Home Bag, SHTF bag/pack (etc.) and a lot has been written and said about it in the prepper community. However, some of what I have seen on the topic is bad advice and could get you into trouble. In this article, I want to address some of the basics of developing your own survival pack and a few misconceptions. My perspective on this topic comes from my experiences first as an Army Paratrooper stationed in Central America and then as a professional corporate risk manager.
Why you need a survival pack
In an integrated and flexible strategy for prepping, you need multiple solutions to survival. A survival pack is the most basic element in prepping. Various agencies of the Federal government keep disaster packs on standby at all times and are designed to allow key agency personnel to immediately bug out of their office locations and get them to offsite backup locations to continue their work. Personal survival packs should be designed to help you survive for up to 48 hours or more and contains the essential items enough for you get away from danger and get to help or a more permanent solution (i.e. bug-out-location, etc.).
Mobility is key
I saw some YouTube videos of guys showing off their packs and bragging about all the cool stuff they pack into it. These packs come in at 40 plus pounds and are huge. You will want to keep your packs as light as possible (below 20 pounds as a rule of thumb). The idea is not to have a pack that is so heavy that you can’t get very far very fast.
When I was in the Army, I carried enormous field packs that weighed more than 50 pounds and even at the peak of my physical conditioning and ideal marching terrain, it was a struggle to get more than 12 miles. To this day I suffer from compressed (herniated) disc at my L3/L4 due to carrying too heavy of a rucksack. You have to keep your packs light.
What to pack
Keeping weight in mind. Start with the basics. Clean, drinkable water is key to any survival situation. Pack at least 2 quarts of water (at a minimum) along with water filtration and sterilization equipment. Next, pack some form of food energy items such as dehydrated foods and energy bars or snacks enough for 48 hrs of heavy physical exertion. Then have what we call snivel gear to keep you dry and warm. Keep in mind the terrain and weather you will likely find yourself in. Snivel gear may include poncho, knit cap, light blanket (according to your region and climate). Remember, the idea is survival and mobility not absolute comfort. Next in priority is communications and signaling equipment to include walkie talkies, light sticks, whistles, mirrors, etc. Have a couple of fire starting options to include lighters matches, and flints. Other miscellaneous but important gear include knives, string, flashlights, first aid kits, and bottle/can openers. These would be all you would need in a 48 hour survival situation. Everything else adds unnecessary weight and bulk to your pack.
As mentioned, I’ve seen YouTube videos with people showing off their packs and bragging about all the stuff they have. They had gear and equipment for charging cell phones, cook gourmet meals, set up radio stations, etc. Again the point of a Bug Out Bag is simply to get you away from danger and keep you alive in extreme situations. Its not about rebuilding civilization with what you have in you backpack. Recently I started seeing Bug Out Bags being sold online at various online retailers. The problem with these one-size-fits-all approach is they are not tailored for your specific situation, skill, or abilities. Would you trust your survival to such a pack if you lived in extreme climates like Alaska or the desert southwest? Stick to the basics, use a pack to get to where you can find assistance or other more permanent preparations.
Another thing I’ve seen is people pack guns and ammo into their packs. The problem with packing guns is depending on local laws, you would not always be allowed to have the pack with you wherever you go. Again, that defeats the purpose of the pack. Also, ammo is extremely heavy and slows down your ability to reach safety. Of course if you live in Alaska or other such locations, it makes sense to have some sort of firearm for protection but I consider them a separate survival solution from the basic survival pack.
Keep it close
Always have your survival pack handy. No point having a great pack if you leave it at home and then find yourself in a survival situation. Having a small and light pack makes it easier to carry around and attract less attention. This way, if you find yourself in a situation, your handy pack is there to get you home and out of danger.
About the Author: Mr. Fu is a corporate director of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) in the insurance industry and also has a unique and unusual background in the field of survival and prepping. As a former US Army paratrooper, Mr. Fu trained in survival techniques for various locations and climates with firsthand experience operating in different parts of the world. One of his more unique military experiences comes from being a distinguished graduate of the Army’s Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) Warfare School trained in the identification, protection from, and remediation of nuclear, chemical and biological events. Mr. Fu’s professional role as a corporate risk manager involves evaluating business and disaster risks from a real-world perspective and to utilize theoretical quantitative risk modeling for the company, its stakeholders, and customers/policyholders.
© 2014 Henry Fu. All rights reserved. Published on American Preppers Network by permission.