Bug Out Bag (BOB)

From http://bushcraftwife.blogspot.com Bug Out Bag (BOB): "
The Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a portable kit that contains everything you would need to survive for 72 hours. Other names for this kit include Get Out of Dodge (GOOD) bag, Bail Out Bag, 72-Hour Kit, Go Bag, Battle Box or Grab Bag (I'm sure there are many other names). The focus of your BOB is evacuation, not long-term survival. If you discover you have three minutes to grab something, leave your home/job/location and get out of the area, this is the bag you grab. Your BOB is separate from your EDC. Your BOB should be on hand and easily accessible, your EDC should already be with you or on your person. (The links I added are only to show what certain items are or look like, I am not endorsing specific products.)

Your BOB can be whatever type of container that you are comfortable with, and comfortable carrying. It needs to be something you can lift and carry. Many people use backpacks (soft or framed), or you can purchase a huge variety of bags made specifically for this idea. Most of the BOBs I have seen are backpacks that have a lot of pockets and ways to attach additional items or smaller bags to them.

Bug Out Bags are highly individualized - ultimately you will have to decide what is appropriate in yours. All I can do here is make suggestions and get you thinking. Think about your personal situation and brainstorm some scenarios - if you have to bug out, where are you likely to end up? Will you be camping or in a hotel? Will you be driving or on foot? What else may influence how you pack?

Also remember that if you can't properly use an item in your bag, it is wasted space. Also think about redundancy - everything in your bag should have multiple uses. I am assuming here that you are also carrying your EDC, or have put your EDC inside your BOB, so items that should be in your EDC will not be listed here.

I think your BOB should focus on the basic elements of survival. Here's what I'm seeing over and over when I research this: shelter, fire, food and water, first aid, navigation, communication, signaling, protection, tools, clothing, comfort, and a positive attitude. Let's go through these one at a time.

If you may be outside for two or three days, you will need to be sheltered from the elements and need somewhere warm and dry to sleep. You will want a cover over your body and have something to provide a barrier between you and the ground so you stay dry and away from bugs. Items that could work here are sleeping bags, tarps, space blankets, hefty bags, a tent.

A fire serves multiple purposes. It will provide warmth, dry wet clothing, boil/purify water, cook food, provide light and possibly keep some critters away (unless the raccoons have marshmallows). Your bag needs to contain a minimum of three different ways to start a fire. Items such as lighters, waterproof matches, and a ferro rod and striker work well. Remember that in addition to starting a fire, you will also need to build it up to a good strong fire. You will most likely be able to gather or cut plenty of fire wood, but dry tinder is not always guaranteed. You can carry a Ziploc bag full of various tinder material such as dryer lint, Vaseline soaked cotton balls, straw or store bought tinder. I would also recommend a couple of candles to add to your pack, in case your shelter is your vehicle. You might be surprised at how much heat one candle can provide inside a vehicle. You also want a good, hand crank flashlight or a battery flashlight with extra batteries. Get a heavy one and you have a weapon as well. A couple of light sticks aren't a bad idea, either.

Food and Water
For one person, figure on consuming one gallon of water and 2,000 calories of food every day. Carrying three gallons of water with you to bug out is unlikely (though I keep one gallon of water in my vehicle at all times). You need a way to gather, hold and purify drinking water. Make sure you have some type of water container and either something you can use to boil water in or water purification tablets. You can also pick up a water purification straw that can be handy. Do some research on survival food. You want something that can give you a lot of calories to sustain you for normal activities plus the extra energy you will be burning off walking, building a shelter, starting a fire, freaking out, etc. Most camping stores carry some sort of freeze-dried food packs and you can put a handful of those in your bag. Keep an eye on expiration dates.

First Aid/Hygiene
The first aid kit was covered in a previous post, and your BOB should hold some sort of first aid kit as well. Here I am also going to mention - for the ladies - that period pack you should have already put together. Hygiene items need to be considered and packed in your BOB. For three days, you can probably skip soap, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. But I'm still carrying my period pack. So should you. Let's also add a shovel here, or something like it, so you can bury your personal waste, and more Ziplocs for bagging up other waste that is not appropriate to leave behind.

If I didn't get lost about once a week, I wouldn't be me. Now put me in a bug out situation where I'm scared and confused and I can guarantee you I'm going to stop at some point and wonder where the pluck I am. Be ready for that. Navigation items can include a good compass (provided you know how to use it), area maps, state maps, topographical maps, street guides and GPS for your vehicle. Here's a site with links to other sites that teach you how to read maps.

In an urban bushcrafting environment, the first realistic thing you are going to try to do is call someone. Your cell phone is probably in your EDC and maybe a car charger is, too. That's good. Just remember that cell phone communication can be iffy. Let's think about some other ways to communicate - like pen and paper, signal mirror, two-way radios, and a battery or crank operated radio.

Your bag should contain a few ways that you can signal for help if you need to. There are various items you can pack for this use, that also serve other purposes (and are therefore great choices) - signal mirror, flares and a whistle. You can also pack a bright colored bandanna, which will make you more visible, can make your vehicle more visible and serves a ton of other purposes.

You want a couple of knives in your BOB, period. Take a look around bushcraft forums to see the huge variety of knives people choose. Your knives will not only serve as personal protection, they are vital tools. Do not skip this item, and do not go without a backup knife. I do not recommend carrying mace for protection. If you (like me) may have your dog with you, you do not use mace around a dog, it can kill them. And if the wind shifts, all you're going to do is mace yourself. Bad idea. A good multi-tool is also vital. You may not be familiar with them right now, but in a survival situation you will surprise yourself at how creative you get in the use of your gear. Multi-tools can contain items such as: knife, can opener, wire cutter, needle nose pliers, small saw, Phillips screwdriver, regular screwdriver, corkscrew, scissors, tweezers, hook and fish scaler. If you already have your two knives, a Leatherman type mutli-tool is probably better than a Swiss army knife (so sayeth the husband).

One thing I think all BOBs should have year-round is an extra-large rain jacket and pants. You can put these on over the clothes you are already wearing to provide an extra layer of heat and waterproofing. You should also carry a pair of hiking shoes/boots. In addition, carry some extra clothes that are appropriate for the season - extra pair of long pants, two pairs of socks, a couple of shirts, a hat, long underwear (in winter), and a bandanna. Obviously this should be altered to fit your individual needs, but this gives you an idea of where to start.

The idea behind packing this bag is that you are prepared in the event that something so bad or so scary happens that you have to grab one thing and run for a few days. You are going to be scared, exhausted, lonely, confused and who knows what else. Put one or two things in your bag to give you comfort, or to pass the time. Items like a deck of cards, a puzzle book, a book or two, a hand held video game (with ling life batteries), a sketch book, a journal, etc.

Positive Attitude
You can do it! A big part of survival is the right attitude, and you are already building it! You are reading about getting prepared and your brain is spinning away. Remember that keeping an optimistic outlook can do wonders for how you thrive in any situation. If you are in a SHTF scenario, sitting around feeling depressed and whiny isn't going to help, and it isn't going to shelter you for the night or put food in your gut. You already know that you're a smart, capable person. Look at everything you achieve every day - and you're worried about starting a fire? No problem! (Um, I'm not really good with motivation, sorry.)

So that covers the list. Now let's mention a few other good ideas. Put a lot of your items in Ziploc bags. This will help keep them dry and give you a lot of Ziplocs you can use. Pack some big hefty bags, they have multiple uses. Pack a few squares of dark chocolate, it will give you a sugar boost when you need it. Pack a small pot and a large cup so you can boil water and heat up your freeze dried meal (yum!). And don't forget your spork! You should also carry some sort of gear repair kit, in case you get a hole in your BOB or clothing, you can fix it. Also carry pocket-sized books - survival, first aid, wild edibles. And cordage - I almost forgot cordage! (I'd have to turn in my bushcrafting learner's permit.) Carry some type of cord in your pack - most will recommend 550 paracord. You can also use mason's line, which is easier to pick up and also comes in a variety of colors. You can make a paracord bracelet that would easily hook on to your BOB, and you can wear while you're out there. If you need the cord, unravel the bracelet.

Also consider what you are already good at. Avid fisherman? Pack a small fishing kit. Good with vehicle repair? Pack a toolkit to keep your vehicle in good repair. You get the idea.

If you have followed this post, you now have a humongous backpack stuffed with 500 pounds of gear and you think I am one crazy woman. I know, I know. Here's where the 'highly individualized' part comes into play. Go back through this post and click on the links (I put a lot of them in there). See what other people have packed. Also remember redundancy - be smart and choose items that serve many purposes. This will cut down on number of items and bulk. Get yourself an inexpensive backpack and pack it up. Go to a local park and hike around wearing it. Fine tune what you think you need, and re-pack it. Then upgrade your backpack when you're ready for something different. I'm on my second backpack and I already want another one. In my opinion, this is a process.

For those of you that have never put together a BOB, don't worry. It has taken me months to put mine together and I know I will fine tune it over and over and over. For the experienced bushcrafters who are kind enough to read this blog, please add in your tips and suggestions, I'm sure I didn't cover it all. I'd love to know what you think! Thanks for reading!


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