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Joel is a survivor, first and foremost. He’s done what he’s needed to, to make it through TEOTWAWKI (survivalist acronym – The End of the World as we Know It). As such, we’re also going to be checking out some end of the world skills and know-how, starting with…
The Bug Out Bag
Bug out bags are pre-packed survival kits to keep somewhere around your house. They’re meant to be a quick and easy grab-and-go type solution, so you don’t have to take any time to pack, or think about what you need to survive. As a rule, you should have one for every person in your household. Here’s some things you should include:
Don’t skimp on your bag, it’s going to be responsible for carrying the rest of your gear, AND you’re going to be carrying it all day, so it needs to be sturdy, versatile, spacious, and comfortable. Most survival blogs would recommend a military-issue MOLLE bag, like this one. The MOLLE bag has lots of space, a sturdy construction, and lots of straps on the outside that you can hook other stuff onto. Being a standard framework, there’s also lots of pouches and stuff that you can get that attach to, and expand the capabilities of, the basic bag.
Shelter is one of the most important things to have in an emergency. Remember, you can go three weeks without food, three days without water, but you can die in three hours if you don’t have proper shelter in harsh conditions. Look for a compact, highly-rated tent that you can strap onto the outside of your pack. You also want to get a good sturdy tarp, to lay underneath your tent. Finally, you should grab an ultralight hammock. They add almost no weight to your bag, but they great for when you want/need to sleep off the ground. Plus, in milder weather, you can just string up your hammock, hang your tarp over it, and sleep the night away.
There are a wide array of items that could go under the header of “tools,” but here are some solid picks you should definitely have in your bag:
Seriously, there are few things on this earth more versatile than duct tape. Carry a couple rolls if you can, this stuff is invaluable.
Paracord is thin, strong, and lightweight. It packs easily, and can be used for everything from pitching a tent to making a stretcher. No bug out bag is complete without it.
Guns are kind of ubiquitous with the apocalypse genre, and for good reason, they’re very good for personal independence, which is essential in a survival situation. You don’t need anything huge and fancy, it’s much better to pick something reliable and purpose-driven. A simple .22 caliber rifle is a good staple, as they’re lightweight, the ammo is cheap, they’re very easy to aim/shoot, and they can still bring down a lot of game, and work for self defense in a pinch. A handgun for self defense is also a good thing to have, if you’ve got the space/weight for it. Make sure you also bring enough ammo for whatever weapons you’re carrying.
A good, solid hunting/sheath knife is one of the most versatile tools you can have in a survival situation. Again, it doesn’t have to be huge, a 4-5 inch blade is probably enough to do whatever you need.
Multitools are great because they can do a lot of the smaller things that your big knife can’t. Don’t skimp on this, although they can be a little pricey, buying a good model from a respected brand like Leatherman or Gerber is well worth your money.
Having a way to boil water is invaluable, and it’s surprisingly difficult without a decent metal pot. This is probably going to be one of the bulkier items you carry, but it’s well worth it.
First Aid Kit
Don’t skimp on this one, for sure. Make sure you also pack plenty of feminine hygiene products, if you expect to have females traveling with you. There is not substitute for this stuff that isn’t both unpleasant and messy.
Fire is essential in a survival situation. Here are some supplies you should carry at all times:
Making a fire with a magnesium firestarter is cool, but matches are much simpler, and more forgiving.
Magnesium Fire Starter
Get one of these, and practice how to use it BEFORE you end up in a survival situation. When you don’t have any matches left, this is your best bet.
Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls
Carry these in a ziploc bag, and use them as tinder to start your fires. They catch a spark/flame incredibly well, and aren’t effected by getting wet (unlike most other tinder options).
3 Days-3 Weeks Food Supply
Dehydrated meals and energy bars are your answer, here. You should pack enough food to last you at least three days in the bush. Hopefully by the time that runs out, you’ll have set up enough of a camp that you can begin to subsist on your own. Adding more food to your pack isn’t out of the question, however, dependent upon how much space you have, and how much you can carry. I wouldn’t advise MORE than three weeks worth, though. If you want to pack more than that, then maybe devote the extra space to something to aid in hunting/fishing instead. Speaking of which…
Hunting, fishing, and trapping!
These are skills, people. You can buy all the supplies in the world, but if you haven’t practiced using them, you’re gonna have a bad time. Fishing line/hooks are small, and easily packed, make sure you bring some. Hunting shouldn’t be too difficult with your rifle (as mentioned above). Trapping is fantastic because it will work for you while you’re working on something else. I’d suggest grabbing a few books or checking out some Youtube videos on this subject.
Get a camp utensil setup to pack away. This typically includes a lightweight plate, some fold-up utensils, and a collapsible cup. Also, make sure you keep them clean. Getting sick from a dirty plate is probably one of the least pleasant experiences you could inflict upon yourself (and could be lethal in a survival situation).
Katadyn is the standard brand, although there’s more out there. If you’re preparing several bags (for a family, for instance), I’d say get one filter with 1000s of gallons of filter life, and then a couple smaller ones for other people. Also good are iodine tablets, and activated carbon, for making your own filter in a pinch.
Grab a stainless steel water bottle or canteen, and make sure you can easily hook/tie them onto your bag. It’s no fun to have to break out your filter every time you need a drink, with a sizable bottle (or two), you can store some filtered water for later!
Clothing is essential, obviously. Pick clothes with lots of pockets, and try to steer clear of denim and cotton if you can. Wool stays warm when wet, and modern ripstop fabrics breath better, and hold up better under stress, than cotton based products. Have at least two changes of clothes with you, one that you wear, and one in a zip-close plastic bag, to have a dry set to change into if you get wet.
Carry some zip-close bags, and some large plastic trash/contractor bags. The zip bags can hold small supplies and keep them dry, whereas the trash bags can serve as food sacks, ponchos, or makeshift shelters.
A hand-crank AM/FM radio is a great asset for staying on top of what’s going on in the world around you.
Have enough hand-crank flashlights to go around. Light in a dark place should never be overlooked!
A harmonica, a deck of playing cards, or even a yo-yo can help keep your sanity in a survival situation. Having food/water/shelter are important, but so is not going crazy.
Soap, bug spray, toothpaste, and dental floss help to keep you disease-free and healthy. Dental floss also has a lot of handy uses around camp, for tying up small things. It can even be used to stitch wounds shut, in a pinch.
I think that’s about it for our bug-out bag, let’s look at some good rules of thumb in a survival situation!
Stay away from population centers.
Whether it’s a zombie apocalypse, plague, war, natural disaster, or economic shutdown that causes TEOTWAWKI, you should try to steer clear of major population centers like cities, towns, and military installations. Making sure you and your loved ones are self-sufficient enough to make it in the wild is much more preferable to trying to survive off what’s left in a city. There will be riots, gangs, and other nasty things where people congregate. Stay clear.
Keep your group small.
Nuclear family only, close friends if necessary. Everyone needs to learn to pull their own weight, even the kids. Learn to delegate tasks, and split things according to peoples’ individual skillsets. Surviving with a group has its strengths and weaknesses. On the downside, you have to feed and shelter more people. On the upside, you can have one person building a fire, another person setting up camp, a third out hunting/trapping, and a fourth securing a water source. This is the scenario you want to construct. Multitasking is key in a group, people sitting around and/or monotasking is wasted energy.
Keep Aware of Current Events
Remember the radio you packed before? Yeah, this is important. Chances are there will still be a few radio stations up and running, whether government sponsored or otherwise. Stay tuned in so you know if there’s any major dangers headed your way, but be wary of possible traps. Remember the first rule, stay away from large groups of people.
Alrighty folks, I think that’s it for this post. Remember, today is a double-post day due to yesterday’s holiday, so check back in a bit for The Rebirth of Joel. If you haven’t joined The Champions Guild yet, head on over and sign up now so you can be kept current with what’s going on with the blog! You’ll also get two free eBooks written by yours truly. Check it out!
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Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace