Urban Survival: The Bug Out Bag

Posted on September 08 2016

King Solomon is the origin of the proverb stating that “There’s nothing new under the sun”. The tried and true Bug Out Bag is no different. Before the term was coined by the media, the Bug Out Bag was the Bail Out Bag, designed for survival in the event of a plane crash. The term “bug out” appeared during the Korean War, when a soldier might need to “bug out” to avoid being overrun by the enemy. There’s even a 1950’s era tune dedicated to bugging out. But no matter what you call it, the purpose remains the same, the Bug Out Bag is the gear needed to survive a maximum of 72 hours without resupply. Keeping that concept in mind, I put my Bug Out Bag (BOB) on a serious diet. The current BOB had gotten fat over the years, weighing in at nearly 40lbs. It was a great example of redundancy gone wild! I had more knives, flashlights and ammo than anyone could ever dream of using in a short term situation.

Instead of trying to pick and choose what to keep or remove, I started from nothing. My first move was to swap my large USMC issue assault pack for a smaller 30 liter Russian Army pack. By doing this, I was forced to leave out the extras and focus on survival essentials. Starting from the ground up, I added a canteen, water purification kit, shelter and fire kit. Over the course of a month, minor modifications were made until everything fit. The end result was a pack that weighed only 23lbs, breaking my goal weight of 25lbs with ease.

First Line Gear

This is the kit I carry directly on my person. I wrote a detailed post on the Line System a while back, get more details here. Due to the environment, I felt it reasonable to wear “tactical” pants. No camouflage of course, but a subdued brownish/tan pair of trousers made by Tru-spec. These allow me to easily store survival gear such as lighter, compass, flashlight, knife and more.

Backpack

I chose the Ratnik daypack due to the compact size and overall simplicity. The design is classic European with one large sustainment pouch on each side, compression straps all around and a top lid with two large pockets. The side pouches distribute the weight across the back, making for a more comfortable fit. MOLLE/PALS webbing covers the front of the pack and top lid, including a single row of webbing on each shoulder strap.

Purchase: 30L Day Pack

Bug Out Bag

The pattern is a subdued digital camouflage named Digital Flora. From a distance it appears as dark green, but in dense vegetation or up close, it’s highly effective in concealment. Due to the limited size of the pack, I added a large utility pouch on the front, taking advantage of the MOLLE. This addition was more for convenience, giving me quick and easy access to my water kit, binoculars and multi tool.

Bug Out Bag

Keeping comfortable in mind, the back is heavily padded with a vertical channel for air flow. Straps are padded as expected, my only complaint being the length. There is no waist belt since this pack is designed to be worn with the 6sH112 assault vest.

Bug Out Bag

Contents

Thanks to the small bag size, the packing list is very targeted. At the end of the build, I did throw in a nice to have item, my last ditch survival kit. Not absolutely necessary, but a very nice to have kit.

Food

Bug Out Bag

I prepared a mix of ready to eat food and meals that require my small Esbit pocket stove.

Meals & Snacks

 

Drinks

 

Cookset & Miscellaneous:

 

Shelter

The season dictates the type of shelter chosen. For spring/summer, a large tarp is a good idea with a camouflage pattern or solid color that blends well in wooded areas.

Bug Out Bag

Hydration

Water is an essential resource so I tend to err on the side of more than less.

Bug Out Bag

Bug Out Bag

Medical

The IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) is built with minor and major medical events in mind.

Bug Out Bag

Tools & Electronics

I carry a mix of items to handle multiple scenarios from recharging my cell phone to prying open locked doors.

Bug Out Bag

Apparel & Compression/Dry Bag

I discovered the hard way that it’s a good idea to have a change of clothes on hand. In this case I was able to pack an entire outfit minus trousers. Using the Sea to Summit compression bag made this possible, without it, I would have been forced to either leave the extra clothes at home or use a larger pack.

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Last Resort Survival Kit

This kit was not a necessity for my BOB, but rather a nice to have item. It was so much fun building, I could not resist taking it along. Read more about this kit here

Bug Out Bag

Wrap Up

There are three key factors to consider when building your Bug Out Bag. Climate, weight and environment. The weather will dictate what type of apparel and shelter you pack. The weight is important to consider since most of us are not regularly hiking with our gear. Keeping the weight low helps with endurance and stamina. Finally the environment or situation will help determine if you bring extra ammunition, add more food or other modifications.

The BOB you build for handling a natural disaster will be different from a bag built to survive an evacuation from a hostile environment. Since natural disasters are the most common SHTF event, it’s a good idea to build your bag with that scenario in mind. Once that foundation is built, then consider other scenarios and modify your kit accordingly.


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