I begin this post with a confession: I don’t own a Bug Out Bag. The reasoning for my non-ownership of a BOB is simple and straight forward. I’m 50, I’ve been through a bunch of emergencies: bad car wreck, windstorms, dust storms, ice storms, earthquakes, extended power outages, days where the high temps were well below 0, a riot, and I was 12 and living not too far away from it when Mt. Saint Helens blew its top. In all of those situations I never needed a BOB. I see no reason why I should have one now.
Obviously, I’m a proponent of emergency preparedness. This blog wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t and I have all the stuff that goes along with that. However, almost all that stuff pulls double duty, I use it hiking, camping, biking, and it’s my regular cooking stuff-just shelf stable versions and it a bit of higher than normal quantity. It’s all sorted out and stored where I can get to it quickly if I need it. I also have more medical skills than the average Joe, so I’m pretty well covered.*
I decided to play around with a few concepts of bags I thought might work for me. My first decision to call them Get To Safety Bags, the idea being that where I was wasn’t safe and so I needed to leave and get somewhere that was (obviously, if where you are is safe you don’t need leave). The contents, then, would be what I might need to get from my unsafe area to a safe one.
In my experience emergencies are limited both in area and time. Given enough time you can either travel outside the emergency area, where some version of normal life is still going on, or rescuers can get to you and insure your safety. I’m not preparing for the end of the world or surviving in the wilderness, I’m just trying to get to the nearest place that’s safe.
For Get To Safety Bag #1 I decided to go with a small bag oriented towards some sort of either man made or environmental emergency where there was a good potential for injury, you might have to spend a good part of a day outdoors, and you might have to wall a few miles.
Here’s the gear:
The packs is a Mountain Smith Tour lumbar pack, which is 550 cubic inches in size, or a little smaller than a standard book bag. The stuff is stuff, enough munchies to keep me going for half a day, a 5×7′ tarp and some cordage to make it into a bit of shelter. The first-aid stuff has a few large trauma pads, a bunch of wrap and a triangle bandage. It’s enough to stop some pretty good bleeding, wrap up a sprain, or splint a fracture. There’s also a travel toothbrush in there as it can help you figure out and deal with a mouth injury. My experience has been that emergencies can be smoky and dusty so I tossed in a couple surgical masks. The rest is pretty standard hat, gloves, Swiss Army Knife, light and so on.
I figured the best idea was to keep it small and light as the more weight you have the slower you travel and the more energy you use. I’ll tear this bag down in a few days and put up a few more examples of what I think is a realistic bag to help deal with what you could with realistically run into out there in the big bad world.
*If you don’t have a ton of hiking and camping gear and don’t have the experiences and interests that I have I do think that a BOB or 72 hour pack is a good idea for you to have.