If you read apocalypse books that feature preppers or have contact with preppers you might hear the term Bug Out Bag, also known as Emergency Bag, 72 Hour Bag or other similar term. To put it in simple terms, a Bug Out Bag is a rucksack or similar easily carried bag that is ready packed with emergency supplies that you can grab if you need to exit your home or car quickly. My dad and I have BOBs in the car so if we are stuck somewhere, we can grab the bags and head off home without messing about. Chances are we could be home safe before anyone around us works out something is wrong! This post is meant to be a guide, not a full list and I have prepared links to prepper sites for further reading. This post is based on what are in my BOBs.
What kind of bag should I use?
If you are a person who enjoys hiking and camping, you are likely to have something suitable already. For obvious reasons, waterproof is better, and you want a bag that you can put plenty into without straps rubbing your neck or it killing your back! You might have to carry this a fair distance if you are trying to get home or trying to get away from home so it must be comfortable. The bags my dad and I have, have padded straps and fasten across waist and chest, which takes the weight off my shoulders and makes it more comfortable to carry. If you don't have one, a good outdoors shop will have a range that you can look at and try.
There are ready filled Bug Out Bags for sale online. Should I use them?
In my personal opinion, no don't buy these. They can be very expensive and are quite often filled with things you don't want, don't need and wouldn't use. It's more time consuming to get your own bag put together but it is worth it to have what YOU need and want in your bag instead of a lot of expensive cheap rubbish.
What food should I put in my bag?
This is of course going to be dependant on what you like to eat. You're looking for light to carry, high energy food that will give you the strength to get to where you are going. MREs are good for this purpose (Meals Ready To Eat) but would have to be eaten cold if you don't carry a cooking source with you. I have got things like peanut butter satchets, beef jerky, peanuts, cereal bars, fruit, nougat bars, boiled sweets, specially designed survival cakes and biscuits. These all came from ration packs that I bought on Amazon along with self heating main meals. My dad and I looked at the big pile and seperated it into a pile each, which are sealed in waterproof zip bags and in our BOBs. He traded his peanut butter option for my maple syrup bun! The exact ones I bought are no longer there but these are similar with much the same stuff, to give you a look at what I'm talking about. Look up this on Amazon: New Military Day Ration Pack
What about water?
Water is the biggest problem as it is heavy to carry. I have two 500ml bottles of water in each of our bags and spare in the car to carry if we have a long walk. With the weight of the bags I could not physically carry any more. If your plan to get from your home or get back to your home includes passing shops still open or a reliable water source you can buy or refill your bottles and use a water filter and water purification tablets with the water you gather. If not or the water looks really bad you might have to make do with what you can carry. I do suggest water purification tablets in case you end up with a very long walk home, and a Lifestraw. You can drink straight from ANY water source in the wild with Lifestraw and it filters out 99.9% of bacteria. With this you can also carry light collapsable water containers instead of hoofing heavy bottled water.
What other supplies do I need?
This is where each prepper disagrees! If you are a hardcore prepper you will have more items for a range of various things, giving you the ability to hunt, fish and build fires, ready for an extended stay in the woods so to speak. I'm going to say the things I think you NEED to have, based on a 24 hour-36 hour hike home, then others things can be added if you want them. The items I'm talking about are good for everyday situations as well as bugging out. In the UK weapons are strictly controlled so I can't just stroll around with a gun or machete! Sometimes you need to improvise!
-comprehensive first aid kit
I bought a good large one in Aldi a couple of years ago and then added more things into it like micropore, additional plasters and wound dressings, an agent that clots the blood, good scissors, antiseptic wipes, lip balm, knee and elbow supports etc. Think of every injury you can think of dealing with if you might be a distance away from medical help.
This is necessary for every eventuality from changing a wheel in the dark, signalling an emergency vehicle for help, finding your way safely out a building without power or finding your supplies at the bottom of a bag without unpacking everything! I would put one in BOB and carry one in your everyday handbag or purse, or leave it in your car. LED headlamps are also handy to have as these are hands free but can be pricey. I got one free in a mountain climbing magazine which was handy!
A very strong rope that can be used for tying, towing, securing, constructing. You could tie up someone threatening you, use it between trees to help construct a makeshift shelter, use as boot laces or to repair and carry a damaged BOB. Make sure you have a sharp knife to cut it. I use this around the garden too. Buy Wild Elk on Amazon from a range of colours.
You see people at the end of marathons being wrapped in what looks like silver foil blankets right? Well these are a must for a survival bag. They are designed to fold up into the size of your hand and trap body heat to keep you warm in a cold car or out in the elements. They are also so light you won't know you are carrying them and will fit easily into BOB. You can get these pretty cheap online but check for a decent company. I got mine for £1.50 each and £3 for the tent version which folds up to palm size.
-mirror for signalling
-waterproof matches and lighters
-extra socks (cold feet are a killer)
-garbage bags (to sit on or wear-use stuffed with leaves)
-insect repellent (all hail the Scottish midge!)
-salt/sugar/pepper/milk/cream sachets and chocolate/high sugar sweets
-energy gels/mint cake (sugar rush!)
-extra batteries (don't want your torch to go out!)
-spray perfume (spray any would be attacker in the eyes if pepper spray is illegal like it is in the UK!)
-hand sanitizer/alcohol wipes
-Potassium Iodine pills (Radiation protection, yes I do have a pile!)
-Collins Gem Food For Free (great cheap pocket guide to foraging for safe food to eat)
-SAS Survival handbook (cheap pocket sized book telling you how to survive any scenario)
FOR YOUR DOG
-get them a BOB of their own to carry their supplies!
OK some of these items are expensive and if you are prepping on a tight budget you might trim down the items or find cheaper alternatives. My one piece of advice is not to scrimp on the water purification. A Lifestraw will last you years and water is the most important thing on your list. You'll notice I haven't included cooking sources-my BOB does not have one as all my food can be eaten cold, and I could not carry any more weight. Ideally you would maybe want to have one if you can. I have not included things like sleeping bags and dry towel, which you can attatch onto your BOB or extra clothes for warmth which we keep in the car and would change into if required before we set off.
Do you have a BOB? What do you have in it? Where do you keep it?