I don’t care how experienced you are, you’re not perfect. I guess that’s the sum total of the wisdom I’ve managed to gather in over 50 years of life. No matter how much I learn and no matter how many experiences I have, there’s always something I overlook and there’s always something new to learn.
I just recently went through my bug out bag (BOB) with that in mind. That particular kit was last reviewed and renewed about a year ago, so I figured it was time to take another look at it. Even with as long as I’ve been learning and writing about survival, I find that my understanding and my ideas keep on evolving.
One of the things I’m always looking for is things I might have forgotten. I don’t care how carefully you build your BOB or how many times you go through it, you’ll always find something missing, or something you should replace. Here’s a list of items that you might want to think about for your own bag.
Bungees are one of mankind’s greatest inventions. With them, you can strap anything onto anything, even if it looks impossible. I carry several of the small 12 inch cords attached to the outside of my pack. That way, if I find or make something that I need to take along, I’ve got a ready way of strapping it on. This is also the normal way my coat is strapped onto my pack, so that it is readily accessible.
I found these recently and was glad to add them to my kit. They’re about the size of a commemorative coin; but when you put them in water, they expand to their full size. That’s about the size of a large paper towel, but a whole lot stronger. Great for washing yourself and your equipment. Can even be used as emergency TP, if you run out.
Who can forget the need for good old TP? But amazingly enough, many of us do forget it. Yet, when the time comes, having or not having that roll in your BOB will make a huge difference in your comfort. If you’re planning on brining a wife, girlfriend or daughter along with you, and forget the TP, you’ll never live it down.
This one’s so obvious that it shouldn’t need mentioning; but you rarely see spare ammunition listed in anyone’s BOB list. But if you’re going to take firearms with you, you’d better plan on taking spare ammo. It’s heavy, but necessary. Don’t forget this valuable Everyday Carry Tool as well.
This is another one that’s super-obvious, but often forgotten. Personal hygiene is an important part of protecting your health, which is essential to your survival. A bar of soap and a tube of toothpaste will go a long way towards helping to ensure just that.
Water is always a concern in any survival situation. So much of a concern, that you might not want to use your limited water supply to wash your hands. With antibacterial hand cleaner, you can make sure that your hands are at least biologically clean, even if they aren’t free of every speck of dirt. The dirt won’t hurt you, but the biological stuff will.
Nalgene water bottles have become “the thing” to use in a lot of people’s minds. But I’ve recently changed my mind about them. While they are great, they have two major drawbacks. First of all, they can break fairly easily. I just recently had that happen to me. Secondly, they can’t be put in the fire. So, I’ve replaced mine with aluminum bottles. That way, if I need to, I can put the bottles in the fire, to purify water.
Speaking of water shortages; I’ve decided that my two, one liter water bottles aren’t enough. I live in an arid area, so finding water can be difficult. So, I’ve added a couple of collapsible bottles to my bag. They weight almost nothing and don’t take up a lot of space when rolled up. But when I need to, I can carry a liter of water in each of them, greatly increasing my water capacity.
Injuries are dangerous. While most people put a first-aid kit in their BOB, I’m not all that impressed with what most people carry. What I’ve seen is more on the order of dealing with a scraped knee or a cut finger. But what if you or a member of your party have a major injury? That’s why I like the military IFAK (individual first-aid kit). It provides the ability to deal with much larger injuries, without having to take up a whole lot more space.
Rarely do you see extra clothing in a BOB, and to be honest, I don’t have much of it in mine, either. But I do have some extra socks. If you want to avoid blisters on your feet, you need to keep them dry. That means changing your socks when they are wet, whether from your sweat or from wading through a stream. Wool socks are better, as they wick the moisture away from your feet better.
There are a lot of things out there in the wild which are more than willing to hurt your lily white hands. So, you’ve got two choices. You can either end up with hands that are all cut up, or you can carry some good quality work gloves with you. I hate working with gloves on, but I still carry them with me.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve given up on the wire saw. I mean, have you ever really tried cutting a tree branch with one? Even a small branch is going to take half of forever and by then the rings on the ends will have dug into your fingers, all the way to the bone. But there’s a more important reason I gave up on them, that’s because in a real survival situation, they won’t last. So, I carry a folding pruning saw instead. Lightweight and looking like an oversized pocket knife, it allows me to cut through those limbs quickly, saving my time and energy for other things.
The WAPI (water pasteurization indicator) is a little-known device that I fell in love with, several years ago. Invented several years ago for use in third-world countries, the WAPI allows you to purify water faster and using less energy than boiling. This compact device consists of a plastic capsule, with a wax bead in it. When it reaches 160 degrees, the wax melts and falls to the bottom of the capsule, letting you know that the water you are heating is now pasteurized (the bacteria are killed). That’s much better than waiting for the water to boil at 212 degrees.
If you live in an arid area or anywhere near the desert, you need to be ready to build an in-ground solar still or two. That means carrying some clear plastic sheeting (visqueen) and a piece of tubing with you. With that, and materials you can find on-site, you can extract water from the ground, as well as from plants and other sources.
There is no end of uses for plastic bags in a survival situation. More than anything, they allow you to store food that you hunt or find along the way. You can also use them as emergency canteens. I carry an assortment of sizes, all made of heavy-duty plastic. The extra strength is worth paying for.
Have you ever tried to start a fire and cook your food in a place where there was no firewood available? I’ve found myself in that situation. So, I added an Esbit stove and the hexamine fuel tabs it uses to my pack. Lightweight and compact, this gives me a way of cooking, even when there isn’t a stick visible for miles.
You never know when your clothes might be torn or a strap on your pack might start coming loose. A needle and thread could be all that keeps you from running around the woods naked, trying to figure out how to keep yourself warm.
Self Reliance Association