As soon as I started researching survival and prepping, I found lots of discussions and articles about building a bug out bag, designed for your specific requirements when the time comes to bug out of your home and head to safety elsewhere.
A Bug Out Bag, often shortened to BOB and also called a 72 Hour Bag should contain everything you need to survive for three days (and possibly beyond) in an environment which is out of your direct control.
The potential list of gear and supplies seems huge at first but it is important to remember that it must be tailored to YOUR requirements and environment. Some of the equipment I saw listed simply didn’t apply to me or were even illegal here in the UK (firearms and ammunition being the most obvious example). However, there is a list of essential categories of equipment and supplies which are deemed essential and should make their way in some form or other into any bug out bag.
Note: I am not going into great detail here as I plan on expanding on these essentials in later posts as I develop my own bug out bag. The list is meant as a starting point for its development.
You can only survive three days without water so you need to have the ability to carry or obtain enough water for your bug out situation. 1L of water per day per person is considered an absolute minimum so you should bank on needing 3L per person for your bug out bag. If that sounds a lot or you anticipate requiring more than three days’ supply, you need to provide your bag with some means of water purification or filtering.
Three days of food supply when you are on the move and exerting yourself is actually quite a bit of food so it pays to pick foods that pack in the calories. Long term it isn’t a diet you’d want but for a few days you want the most energy per Kg you can get.
You can get freeze dried meals, ration packs (MREs), energy bars or trail mix. Even peanut butter gets the thumbs up on most lists because of its high energy content. A means of cooking food should also be included, though it may need to be a small, lightweight option.
Remember though, that you CAN survive for three weeks without food, but I don’t imagine many of us would want to give it a try!
Assuming your three days is going to be spent out in the open, which may not be the case in a highly urban environment, you will need to shelter from the elements and stay warm and dry. The main options are a tent or a tarp/groundsheet combination plus sleeping bag or bivvy.
The basics for clothing are warmth, weather-resistance and comfort
- A pair of boots or shoes suitable for walking or hiking
- A pair of trousers, ideally not cotton as it does not dry well.
- 2 Pairs of socks (again preferably not cotton)
- 2 tops/t-shirts
- Warm/weatherproof coat
- Underwear (possibly thermals)
This list could easily expand if not kept under control as you want to prepare for all weathers but not carry half of a wardrobe! It might be an idea to have two bundles of clothes prepared for different seasons and swap them out when the weather changes.
5. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is essential but what should go into it seems to be under constant discussion and argument. Some lists throw in the kitchen sink for treating trauma wounds, snakebites and broken bones. The best advice seems to be to build your own rather than buy an off-the-shelf kit as you will know what is in there, tailor it to your own needs and skills and make sure everything is of a suitable quality.
Fire means warmth and food. Everyone will advise that you should have multiple ways of lighting a fire from a simple lighter to a fire steel and waterproof matches. There are some surprising ways of getting a fire going and it is the subject of multiple articles in its own right. There are also loads of tips available for tinder and kindling which should make their way into your basic fire kit.
7. Tools & Basics
Any bug out bag will need some basic tools. Again, consideration needs to be given to the environment and what works in the wilds of the USA won’t work the same here in the UK. A decent quality multitool will cover a lot of needs but you should add in a survival knife and a couple of methods of lighting such as torches lanterns. A decent map of your area is a good idea as is a wind-up radio. You could include a mobile phone but there is a high likelihood that mobile coverage will be down in the event of anything serious. Remember, anything electrical should be carried with spare batteries.
In a bug-out situation, depending on the scenario, there may be a breakdown of law and order and the resulting dangers of civil unrest need to be thought about. Here in the UK, our choice of weapons is limited so most of the prepping sites recommending firearms for you to carry are useless to us. It does mean however that your attacker will most likely have the same limitations!
If you are carrying a survival knife that is an obvious means of defence. I know that carrying and/or using such a knife in the UK is illegal but in the scenarios we are thinking about where the rule of law has broken down, is it likely to be such an issue? It is a subject that needs to be given proper thought and you need to have a couple of options available to defend yourself and your family, even if it is just a big stick! Paintball guns may even be an option as they are legal to own in the UK (we are talking self-defense here not offensive) and can wield quite a punch at close range.
Whilst I am clearly no survival or prepping expert (I am a few weeks old novice!), these appear to be the basic elements of most bug out bags and I am using them to give focus to my own preparations, breaking the requirements down into these categories and fine-tuning the equipment and supplies I plan to set up with.