The Best Bug Out Bag (& What It Should Have In It) 2017 Reviews
In the world of preparation, there are really two ways to think about your bug-out bag:
1) The romanticized, rugged, toughing-it-out, beating-the-odds, prepper who has thought of every contingency. This is the crazy guy in the movies that is finally vindicated when the impossible post-apocalyptic scenario descends and he gets to mutter that serendipitous phrase: “who’s laughing now?”
2) The 72-hour survival plan to keep you afloat while you collect yourself, assess the situation, and either move to a more stable living situation, or have the supplies to get you there.
Best Bug Out Bag
What’s the difference?
The first guy gets a lot of cool and sexy tools and feels like a genuine badass. The second guy is equally as prepared, but more narrowly for a more likely situation that one might actually find themselves in. Outdoors survival skills are invaluable, but at the end of the day, a bug out bag is really designed to keep you alive and well when the worst-case-scenario strikes at home (think natural disaster). So we’ll take the second approach. And assuming most people reading this aren’t roughing it out on Walden pond like Henry David Thoreau, I’m going to assume that we need to be prepared to get through a power outage, and possibly homelessness, over 72 hours, in an urban or suburban environment. So let’s look at a good bag and what’s most important to put in it.
What I looked for was good design, cost efficiency, and versatility (MOLLE integration was a big factor). This one stood out for it’s practical design, and excellent reviews. I also like that it caters to military use. Our boys need to be able to keep organized and on the move, which is precisely what we’re looking for in our bag.
Storing your bag
Quick note on this, as I feel it’s something that’s not address much in many articles, but it’s so important; and that’s where you keep the bag once it’s packed. My simple advice is to keep your kit near an entry door, but out of the way and somewhere that will be relatively temperature stable. An entry closet would be ideal. You want to be able to rush home and grab it, or scoop up your bug out bag on the way out the door. The idea is not to have to put a whole lot of thought into it, if you ever need it, so a proper emergency plan and execution is also important. If you have families, you need to involve them in planning this.
What to pack
So, there are a couple layers to this, which I would like to approach from the most mundane, and work up to the more unique.
Think: stupidly obvious things:
● Medical supplies
For clothes, 1 pair of pants, 2-3 shirts, 3 pairs of socks and 3 pairs of underwear should suffice. Under garments are most important, as you can re-wear other articles if need be. (No one is going to judge you for dirty pants in a catastrophic emergency)
Food, is a little more up for debate, but vital. You need your energy. Especially under a high stress situation. Make sure you have enough calories, per day. You have tons of discretion here, but obviously stick to non-perishables. You don’t have to go crazy though, spending all kinds of money on MREs. A can of Chef Boyardee will get you through just as well. It’s not luxurious or sexy, but it’s enough. And for something like this, that needs to be the goal.
Funds! This is another point that I’ve found oddly lacking in many articles, though not nearly as much as bag storage location. Money is easy though. $100-$300 in a small container of any kind should suffice. A used altoids tin, or cigar tube. It really doesn’t matter and you really shouldn’t need more than this. Most likely the money is going to be needed for transportation. Judge your neighborhood and cost of living though, and adjust your amount accordingly.
Toiletries. The easy way to think about this one is by asking yourself, what do you do in the bathroom everyday? Toothbrush, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, tampons (emergencies have no respect for biological cycles), etc. Think carefully here, but also efficiently. You can use TP for more than wiping your behind, so you can probably skip a few other paper items. And everything doesn’t need fancy (read: bulky) cases. Ziplocs will do fine (and are an excellent idea in general to add to your bag, while I’m on the subject).
Medical supplies include the obvious things you would find in a first aid kit such as antibiotic ointment, antacids, pain relievers and the like. But also think about things like a pair or two of latex gloves, any medications you take on a daily, or emergency basis, and anything else for possible injuries that could make life difficult. The extenuating circumstances that would demand this bag will have a higher incidence of such things.
Second: Bug-Out sundries
So here’s the fun and sexy part, but it comes with a caveat: you’re going to have to put some thought into this on your own. There are a few things that I think every bag should have, but consider that someone preparing for a disaster in Brooklyn, NY is going to have extremely different circumstances to contend with than someone in Andersonville, GA. You have to use some imaginative thinking and consider what you might need to get by for 3 days, or to “Get out of Dodge”, if a natural disaster took out public amenities in your town for several days. And this is the big difference between the two ways of thinking about this bag that I mentioned in the beginning. I am making the reasonable assumption that the rest of the world will spin on, outside of the most devastated areas and that we haven’t descended into a full-on Mad Max-esque dystopia.
That being said, here are my useful-in-every-bag suggestions:
In addition to a normal battery powered flashlight (to avoid having to crank for hours a day), Something like this can be invaluable. I did a fair amount of searching to finding something that performed all these functions, and had good reviews on reliability and energy efficiency.
One of the big things is the ability to charge your phone and have access to the radio’s emergency broadcast messages. In a worst case scenario though, even if you can’t contact anyone local, call outside your area and get filled in by someone who still has internet. Information is key, and locating shelters can be easier if you’ve got someone still connected helping you.
This is quite possibly, the most handsome little survival kit I may have ever seen. A good knife can be invaluable no matter where you are. Even if only to open those stubborn MRE packages. Fire, can also be good (have candles in your pack? Need to cook food?). And the paracord wrapped handle just seals the deal for me. I might even put something this efficient, compact, and useful in an EDC bag, if you could. I just love it.
This is a two for one, because they are both products with the same purpose in mind: get water in your system. One also might be more useful than the other, depending on your particular part of the world, but they are most likely to prove invaluable if anything happens to the water supply. And admittedly, it is unlikely. But this is one possibility where lack of preparation could be disastrous.
This is kind of a bonus item. I’m not particularly fond of packing a tent, even though I know most people are. This falls into the category for me of preparing for that romanticized dystopia that we’re just not likely to see. But if you do feel the need for one: pack light.