A friend directed me to the following article on the contents of a Bug-Out Bag. I though it might be useful to examine it with “Uncle Phil’s List”. Below are the items arranged in the categories and some suggestions and observations of my own.
Shelter (Sleeping, Clothing).
The only real shelter item on the list was a small waterproof tarp. It may be prudent to include some spare clothing since theoretically you may have to grab your Bug-Out Bag while wearing only what you are standing up in, be it day or night. Perhaps a spare bag with boots and travelling clothes can be placed nearby to by grabbed if needed. In the Bug-Out Bag itself a blanket is able to serve both as clothing and bedding. Items such as gloves and hats are useful to protect the extremities from the extremes. A large bandanna or shemagh can serve a number of useful functions. A natural disaster often means bad weather so waterproof clothing is useful too.
Waterproof matches and butane lighter(s). You might as well throw in a candle or two. They are good for getting fires going as well as illumination.
A means to purify water but also ways to carry water. A bottle or so of preboiled water should be in the bag to keep you going until you find a new water source.
Food Supplies, Hunting/ Fishing, Cooking.
Food suggested was peanut butter or Power Bars. Either are high calorie, can be stored for extended periods and can be consumed without cooking or heating. A number of alternatives may be chosen instead. Regular readers of the blog will know that I have experimented with pinole. A basic means of cooking such as a metal canteen cup would also be prudent. This item can also be used to pasteurize suspect sources of drinking water. A basic fishing kit is worth including since it takes up very little room and the items can be useful for other purposes.
First Aid (Medication, Wash kit, Hygiene).
The article suggests the bag carry a small First Aid Kit and some personal hygiene items too. Personal medication might come under “last minute items” that are added to the bag just before use. Hygiene items would be at the very minimum a spare toothbrush and a bar of soap. A supply of feminine hygiene items should also be included if there are female members of your party. Such items can also be used as field dressings and tinder. Toilet paper can prove useful too.
Tools (rope, repairs, money)
The author of the article suggests carrying some paracord, which is good advice. My kit contains a long hank of it tied Hojo-jitsu style. He also repeats the often seen advice of replacing your bootlaces with paracord. This isn’t going to give you a lot of paracord and it is unclear how you keep your boots on if you need paracord! I’d also include a bundle of more basic string in the bag too to conserve the paracord for jobs than need its abilities. Duct tape is also suggested and have numerous uses. (perhaps you can tape yourself into your boots when you need some paracord!). Some needles and synthetic thread take up little room and cost little so are worth adding.
An interesting suggestion is to include a small roll-up tool kit in the bag, about the size of a toilet roll. This can be used for repairing vehicles or liberating needed supplies. A small crowbar would be a useful addition to this kit. The author of the article suggests the bag contain a Swiss Army Knife or “good quality” multi-tool. My personal inclination is towards the former (I actually carry one on my person all the time but this list is on what to put in the Bug-Out Bag). Multi-tools tend to be expensive and often heavy. In reality a good pair of insulated pliers included in the tool kit is cheaper and more capable.
Personally I would make sure a bug-out bag also includes a larger blade such as a kukri short machete, tomahawk or golok. When you need shelter or fire you often need them in a hurry and a good cutting tool can make a lot of difference.
Disasters often bring out the best in people and encourage them to help their neighbours. Or sometimes it doesn’t! Thus the Bug Out Bag includes a defensive pistol in locations where such things are legal and the owner is properly training in their use. The final “tool” is a supply of money.
Maps and Compass. GPS is nice, but you need a map and compass too, and the knowledge of how to use them for when it decides not to work.
Signalling equipment includes at least one flashlight. Bombproof, waterproof “tactical” survival torches are very nice. A flashlight should not be too heavy or bulky and ideally should be an item that works without batteries. Hand-cranked LED lights can be found for just a few dollars and are fine for an emergency kit. Some have capacitors in them so you do not have to crank them continuously.
An AM-FM portable radio or scanner can provide useful information in times of trouble. Like the flashlight this is ideally hand-crank powered and not too large or bulky.