Today we finish up the longest article series in the history of Prepography…but ‘Building a Bug Out Bag’ is an important topic and a great place to start if you’re new to prepping and something to circle back to periodically if you’re an advanced prepper.
Let’s begin with a quick review of where we’ve been on this topic. In Building a Bug Out Bag Part I we discussed why building a Bug Out Bag is important and what type of bag to select. In Part II we discussed the Transportation Items to consider, in Part III it was Water preparedness, in Part IV it was Food preparedness, in Part V we tackled Shelter, Clothing and Protection from the elements, in Part VI we considered Communications options, in Part VII we discussed Security Preparedness, in Part VIII we explored Financial & Identity preparedness, in Part IX we covered Health & Medical considerations for your Bug Out Bag and most recently in Part X we discussed Family & Community Support while building a Bug Out Bag.
Today we’ll briefly review Cognitive Preparedness as well as some of my favorite multi-use items and just as important…some items commonly recommended for Bug Out Bags that I suggest you leave behind. As always, remember that when we discuss a Bug Out Bag we’re talking about your last ditch, carry on your back, walk away from trouble Bug Out Bag…not what you hope you can get to your bug out location if your car, SUV, or Landmaster makes it.
In Building A Bug Out Bag Part I we discussed building awareness of the need to prepare and the how you can get by with less ‘stuff’ if you have more knowledge and skills, so we won’t cover those topics again… but the Cognitive Foundation also includes maintaining situational awareness. You should have a plan for building your Bug Out Bag… but you should also plan for knowing when to grab it and go.
If you decide ahead of time what situations will prompt you to bug out you will save precious minutes, hours or even days if and when the time comes to bug out. No matter what you decide your ‘bug out triggers’ are, you should also listen for official evacuation orders (but try to beat the rush)… the only thing worse than a traffic jam is dying is a traffic jam.
The Spiritual aspect of preparedness is just as important as any other facet and I encourage you to decide what your spiritual beliefs are, practice those beliefs and live your life in accordance with those beliefs. Long before I became a person of faith I recognized the inner strength and resilience that strong beliefs imbue in those who hold them. We rarely mention faith in these pages…not because faith isn’t important, but because there are other venues more conducive to exploring that important aspect of life…and preparedness.
Not only will building a bug out bag give you a jump start on your preps, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment that will spur you on in further developing your preps. Once you’ve built your Bug Out Bag, take it for a test walk and make adjustments as necessary. Whatever else you do, make sure to get your Bug Out Bag out at least a couple of times a year for review and seasonal updating.
This article was organized based on the ten Foundations of Full Spectrum Preparedness and that’s a good way to approach most preparedness topics but as mentioned in the introduction, the Foundations overlap. Often the gear overlaps as well with one item having multiple uses. Here are some of my favorite multi-use items for a Bug Out Bag:
Light My Fire Mora Knife w/ Fire Steel: This is my favorite bug out knife. It has a carbon steel blade in a heavy duty plastic sheath and the knife’s handle securely holds a Swedish Steel fire starter. I liked it so much I bought one for every member of my family.
Whistle, Compass, Fire Starter and Match Case Combo (5 in 1 Survival Tool): This doesn’t really have a good whistle, or a good compass, or even a good firestarter…it does have a good match case though… and all the other items get thrown in for no more weight or space as backups. Put a lanyard on it and keep it with you…not in your Bug Out Bag. Remember, except for the match case these items should only be backup to your primary items.
Tinfoil: No this isn’t to make a hat out of… you can use tinfoil as a reflector for heat from a fire or to signal (not super effective but it is an option). You can also use tinfoil as a cooking surface or a fish lure (I know I talked you out of carrying a fishing kit but it’s another potential use). The commercial grade tinfoil is tough and you can fold it down into a little packet for storage.
BCB Crusader Cooking System: This item has been on my Christmas list 3 years running to no avail…so I don’t have firsthand experience with it but it’s a neat looking cooking and canteen system. Stove, pot, wide mouth canteen, carrying case…it’s a neat little system that can use alcohol gel or fuel tabs. I think I’m going to have to breakdown and buy it for myself. I do have a cheaper version of this that I carried when I was in the 82nd Airborne and often since…it’s a military 1 quart canteen and a canteen cup…there’s also a matching canteen cup stove available now.
Just as important as knowing what to pack in your Bug Out Bag is knowing what not to pack. The following items are frequently recommended for Bug Out Bags but I recommend against them…mostly due to weight. Keep them in your vehicle if you want, but not in your Bug Out Bag.