Bugging in and out
Bugging out should always be your last option. Bugging in and riding out whatever comes, in a known and well-supplied environment like home is always preferable. However, if it comes to leaving, you must be ready. Up until now, we have talked about how to get home if SHTF, how to accumulate supplies in your home and how to take care of them. Now, we will be talking about leaving all that in search of safety outside our homes, and what it takes to keep you alive and well if it comes to that.
What is a BOB?
A BOB – or Bug Out Bag is a pack, filled with all the necessities you might need if you have to leave your home in case of a natural or manmade catastrophic event. Basically, it is a pack with 72 hours (or more) worth of survival supplies.
Some believe that if it comes to the situation that you need to leave your home, you certainly won’t be back in three days time. However, I still believe that three days is enough time to reach your secondary location, which is my case or to put a safe distance between you and the catastrophe itself and there look for help. The starting premise is that you already have some basic survival skills and you can get by if you need to spend more than three days out. You do have your water filter with you and you can always ration your food supplies or even pack a bit more, while you scavenge along the way.
So, my primary purpose for this bag is to get me to my secondary location or simply away from the disastrous area.
Why would you ever need one?
Your Bug Out Bag will be your most important possession if it ever comes to such an event which forces you to evacuate your home. That could be an event like an earthquake, flood, fire, or an explosion in a nearby factory or any kind of man-made disaster where your home is no longer safe for you and your family to stay at.
The most probable scenario in such an event is that the government will need time to organize rescue and relief action and it is that time your BOB should provide you with. I truly don’t believe that a global sized catastrophic event might happen and if it does there will be no BOB or any kind of bag that could help us. However, that is my personal opinion and I am preparing accordingly.
Also, your job is to make sure your family is also prepared and each of your family members should have their own BOB. Even when it comes to children, they should have small packs with basic supplies for them to carry, simply because in such a situation every ounce counts. You can also have family exercises where you practice with them, and make prepping kind of a family fun time. It is always easier and more productive when you have your entire family on board with this prepping business.
The content of your BOB
BOB is actually a more elaborate GHB and it contains all the stuff you have in your Get Home Bag plus additional items which allow you to survive at least 72 hours or even more depending on what your plan is.
Down below I will list all the items I keep in my bag, but since each BOB should be tailor-made to personal needs, use it only tentatively. That means that you should think about the unique aspects of your surroundings including climate, whether you are in more urban or rural area, the topography of the surrounding terrain etc.
In any case, you should think about how to make the best out of each item you carry with you. I have made my first BOB a couple of years back but I still add and subtract from it occasionally. Sometimes, for example, I find a tool which can replace two items in my bag. So, I take those two out, throw the new one in and my bag is now a bit lighter and allows me to perhaps add something new I find useful.
Before, I had gold coins in my bag, thinking that might be a good barter item. However, I have changed my mind since and got rid of those, but I have thrown in some more of my existing barter items like cigarettes and alcohol. So, that is how it works for me.
As you learn new things over time, it makes sense that your bag evolves as you are. Also, it is very important to have redundancies. That means to have more than one item for some of the most important tasks like making fire, cutting or defense.
The first thing you will need is a bag. Choosing the right rucksack or backpack is essential so I decided to that topic in a separate article: How To Choose The Right Bug Out Bag Backpack.
Your BOB items could be classified into several groups:
- Personal weapons
- Barter items
Food for your bug out bag
First, you need to know how many calories you eat daily, what you personally likes or dislikes are and what works for you. You should focus on food that is going to sustain you the longest amount of time. Mountain House and MRE (Meal Ready To Eat) are two good options for high caloric intake of any recommended amount of food. To cut the weight down, these types of food are dehydrated, so they need water to make a meal. You can also throw in a Beef Jerky and a couple of other snack type items.
- Survival food pack with 3600 calories
- Beef Jerky
- Mountain House food
- US Military MRE
- Energy bars with high-calorie count
A general rule that I use for myself and my family is I try to keep the total weight of the bug out bag, fully loaded with food, water and everything you’re going to carry, to 20% of your body weight or less. And 20% is really a lot. Some people will say that it should be down to 15 or 10%. Having the total weight as a limiting factor, you must plan the content of your bag carefully, including necessities such as water.
Normally, a healthy person needs on average about 2 liters or half a gallon of water each day. The same person would survive 3-4 days without water. The first health problems would start to show much sooner.
Since you can’t just throw in 6+ liters of water into your bag and call it a day, you should consider getting all of these items.
- Emergency purified drinking water
- Ultra light water purifier or Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System
- Water purification tablets
- Canteen to boil water, to make some soup
Besides having a little rain jacket that you can fold up very compact, you might need an ultralight sleeping bag or some sort of bivy sack, something very small and very lightweight. Carrying a tent is probably not a good solution especially if you’re living in an urban setting.
- Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivvy or
- Ultralight tarp or
- Monofilament fishing line for security trip lines
- Small first aid kit
- N95 mask
- Bug Repellent
- Essential medications: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antihistamines, pain killers. Probably some antibiotics too, such as ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin or ampicillin.
- SAM splint by e.g. REI
- Pepto and antacid tablets
- Hand sanitizer travel size
- Antibacterial wet wipes
- Bar soap or Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap
- Small travel toothbrush and toothpaste. Not essential, just for refreshing.
- Toilet paper
You must have several options to start a fire in rain or wet conditions. Being able to start a fire is essential for survival. And that is why it is necessary to have redundancies. Always have at least three different ways to light a fire, on your person, at all times.
- ZIPPO lighter
- Any kind of tinder, cotton balls or lint packed in a waterproof bag
- Waterproof matches or
- S. Military Fire Starter Trioxane Fuel Bars
- Survival spark magnesium fire starter
- WetFire tinder
Under clothes, I don’t list anything tactical or super-specialized. Those are things you probably already own. You just want to make sure to keep it all as light and as compact as possible.
- Bandana – very useful item and we’ll talk about it further in a separate article.
- Pair of work gloves
- Rain jacket
- Convertible pants (100% nylon)
- Radio transistor
- HAM two-way radio. You’ll need a license because amateur radio is regulated by FCC, although when SHTF nobody would’ve cared.
- Extra batteries
- Multitool set
- Duck tape
- Zip ties
- All your personal documents on USB drive. Also printed on paper.
- Binocular; to monitor surrounding, e.g. for security reasons
- Compass, standalone or part of some other tool, or multitool
- Paracord – a must have, multiple usages. We’ll talk about it in an separate article as well.
It doesn’t matter how much food, medicine, and supplies you have in go bag if the first crack head with the razor can walk up to you and take it away.
- a personal firearm or your choice
- pepper spray
- Blade knife, combat knife or bowie
- Alcohol & cigarettes
Ammo(voted down as not that good idea)
In difficult times it is of the highest importance to stay calm, cool headed and psychologically strong. While BOB is packed only with things that you rationally find essential for your bare survival, maybe you could find a spare room and squeeze in a book or some good reading or anything else that might do you good, cheer you up and overall make you feel better during hard moments. Maybe you’ll find “The SAS Survival Handbook” as a good choice as many YouTubers recommend it as very useful.