Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quick Pick: Cooler

     No, this is not a "Quick Pick" of an item that allows you to keep a few beer's cold while lounging in the park, though you could!  Keeping a cooler in your apartment is actually a great tool to have on hand.  The first, and very useful, thing you can use your cooler for is; in the event of a black-out you can place all the perishable food you keep in your refrigerator and freezer in your cooler.  This will give you more time to either consume the food before it goes bad, or it allows enough time for the electricity to come back on.  Sickness will start to run rampant if the electric goes out for more then 24 hours, especially during the warm months.  People will be eating things that are bad or are on the way to bad, due to the fact that they won't be able to cook it.  Also because bacteria thrives at room temperature.

     The second use of a cooler, or any large portable container for that matter, is as a rain catch.  Water will be a hot commodity in NYC if we lose electric for more then a few days.  The treatment plants that make our tap water potable (or consumable) will go down after a few days.  These plants only have a few days worth of back-up fuel to run generators in the event of a grid failure.  The water company, just like all other utility companies, need electricity to function.  Not to mention that the water system in NYC is antiquated and a bit fragile.  Our water comes from the mountains in Upstate New York through a very long piping system.  The first of which; Water Tunnel No.1 was completed in 1917 and has not been turned off since, not to mentioned cleaned or maintained internally.  The second, Water Tunnel No.2 was completed in 1935 and goes to Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.  The new tunnel; Water Tunnel No.3 (very original names, I know) has been under construction since the 70's and is expected to be completed by 2020, at which point they will attempt to clean and repair No.1, if it makes it that long...

     To use your cooler as a rain catch, just line the inside of it with your trusty contractor bag and allow the water to fall freely into the container or place it under a gutter.  Rain water is completely safe to drink on its own, but once it touches anything, like a gutter or roof, it is contaminated.  To treat it use a disinfecting method (i.e. boil, halogen, filter, etc.) to clean it.  You should also treat water that has sat around for more then 24 hours.  I will be doing a comprehensive post on all things water soon.  Don't forget that water weighs a lot (a gallon of water weighs 8lbs. the world around!  It's actually a little bit more, but it's a good way to remember.)  So either get something with wheel's or don't fill it all the way.

     So there you have it, grab yourself a multipurpose and very functional medium size cooler today, and I'll see you in Sheep's Meadow this spring...


Winter Gloves


     A good pair of winter gloves are important to us as city dwellers for many reasons.  Mainly because we as New Yorker's are a part of the elements just about 365 days a year.  Our suburban counterparts go from home, to garage, to car, to work.  Not so with us as we go outdoors just about everyday, braving whatever temperatures and conditions are thrown at us.  We don't have the luxury of putting the things we acquire through the day in our portable, easily warmed shelter (i.e. car.)  We are always stuck carrying all sorts of stuff like; bags of groceries, purses, babies, phones, you name it.  Often having so many things on us, that putting our hands in our warm pockets is just not an option.  On a bitter cold winter day, our hands suffer because we don’t want to deal with having to take gloves on and off just so we can function in our daily busy lives.  Using a cell phone, counting money, or just plain doing anything with your hands is a pain while wearing big, bulky gloves.
     You have to remember that keeping your hands warm is important to keeping the rest of your body warm.  For a good portion of the fall/winter you can get by with a pair of 100% wool gloves.  They are very insulating, small, lightweight, and can even get fairly wet without losing their insulating properties.  They are also easy to wash by hand, or in a laundry machine.  Like anything wool, allow them to air dry, as they will shrink when thrown in a dryer.  If, like me, you get hot easily I suggest using a lightweight liner worn under the wool glove made of polyester to help with wicking moisture.  Exactly like the three-layer system I suggest for your clothes, you can do the same with your gloves.  With the light polyester liner as your base, wool insulating layer, and an unlined leather outer-layer or shell, you can handle the worst conditions The Apple can throw at you.  This functional system is actually very cheap too.  Not to mention, it allows you to customize your gloves for the conditions of the day.  Just like the three-layer system, you can add or remove layers to fit with the temperature of the day.

     For those of you that are often in the bush, or for those that need as many layers as possible to stay warm, there are a few options to help keep you even warmer.  You may look a little out of place, but I'm personally not one to worry much about what people think, and hope you've gotten to the point in your life where you don't as well.  In extremely cold conditions, or while in the bush in cold conditions, I suggest mittens for the added benefit of being much warmer then “fingered” gloves.  By keeping your fingers together, they heat each other up conserving much more body heat.  You can then clip, sew to the outside of your jacket, or tie a lanyard around your wrists to the glove, like children do, helping you slip the gloves off and on with ease.  This method also helps you not lose them, and is used by the Inuit people's of the arctic, who definitely know how to dress for the cold.

     By keeping your extremities warm, your body can concentrate on keeping your very important core warm.  With the ideas behind the simple, affective three-layer system, we can all have a much more enjoyable outdoor fall/winter season this year.  Here are some items I own to keep my hands toasty warm that I can suggest from Amazon. 

I use a polyester glove liner from EMS.  The "EMS" brand name stuff is of OK quality.  I suggest buying EMS for simple things like glove liners and the like.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kits: NYC Survivalist Bug-Out-Bag (Clothes)

     I'm going to explain what clothing I suggest you keep in your bug-out-bag.  These items should be kept in a separate, waterproof bag inside the main compartment of your bug-out-bag.  There are two parts to this kit, the first explains what should be left in your bag.  The second section explains the clothing you should keep outside your B.O.B.  The articles of clothing on the outside of the kit are meant to be the clothing that you will be putting on in the event of a disaster (if you have time.)  I suggest keeping the external clothing in something like a small plastic bag so that if you are too hurried, and have to go, these items will still be with you, and can be put on when you get time.

     The clothing I suggest is meant to keep you warm and relatively comfortable through all seasons we have here in our area, and is based on the Three-Layer System.  Even if it is August and 90 degrees out, I believe you should still have the heavier layers in your kit.  I do this because there's no way of telling how long a disaster will last, and find it's better to be over prepared then under.  The only clothing you can, and should, switch out is the external clothing that you will be "throwing on" and wearing in the event of a disaster.  So, for example, in the spring you should put the warm, winter gear back into the B.O.B. and take out your lighter warm weather clothes.
  • (1) Waterproof bag - This bag needs to be waterproof, and compact.  Large enough to fit in all your clothing, but not so big as to take up too much room.  I prefer the compression dry sack I link below, but you can also use something like a squeezable "Space Saver" type bag.  Try and get a good quality bag, as it will be taking some abuse from you going in and out of it.  I find medium bags fit my clothing, but if you are smaller, or if it's for a child, try a smaller bag. 
  • (2) Pairs underwear - I use, and suggest nylon or polyester fabric underwear.  You can read more about what I recommend here.
  • (4) Pairs of socks - So it's 4 pairs, two are base layers and two are insulating layers.  I suggest the base layers to be a polyester or a similar lightweight blend.  The insulating layer should be wool.  I also suggest a higher cut sock like ski socks because they don't cut off the circulation at the artery below our calves like everyday socks do.  For more information on my suggested sock system, read my article here.
  • (1) Pair thermal trousers - Also know as "long johns".  I only carry one pair of these around, and use them when it is extremely cold.  They are also great for sleeping in your sleeping bag on cooler nights.  In fact, sleeping with a base layer in your sleeping bag, is much more comfortable then sleeping naked, especially if you use a synthetic sleeping bag (which I highly suggest.)  I prefer lighter base layers made from fabrics like polyester or Capilene.  In fact, I primarily use Capilene 2 as my base layer, and double them up when cold.  Base layers made of materials like polypropylene are very warm, but make the body work harder because of the fabrics "way to amazing" wicking abilities.  If you are typically cooler in the winter, add one more medium-weight pair of thermal trousers.
  • (2) Pair thermal shirts - Once again, I use two medium, to lightweight base layer shirts because I tend to heat up quick.  I buy one small, and one medium, so they fit better when used in conjunction.  Make sure to buy a base layer with a zip-neck to help you control your clothing's 'microclimate'.  You can also use a wool base layer if you prefer.  They tend to be a bit more expensive, but are durable, and extremely warm.  I suggest 'Merino Wool' as it's much lighter and comfortable.
  • (1) Short sleeve shirt -  This can be used as a 'lightweight' base layer under your clothing, or as a t-shirt when the climate is hot.  In the summer, you can add one more shirt to your bag if you prefer.  These shirts should be polyester or similar fabric, and somewhat loose fitting.  They are very comfortable in hot climates or when active.
  • (1) Pair of wool gloves - Wool gloves are very warm, and great to have.  You can wear them alone, or under your unlined leather work gloves from your B.O.B. for added warmth and insulation.  Make sure to buy leather work gloves a bit big, so you can fit your wool gloved hands into them.  You can read a post of my suggested glove system here.

  • (1) Wool hat - This can be one of the most important articles of clothing you can have on you.  For more information, you can read my post on wool hats here.
  • (1) 'Boonie hat' or sun hat - Any lightweight wide-brimmed hat will do.  This is for keeping the sun off your head and face, and can be paramount to your comfort/safety during the hot summer months.  These are also useful for keeping you hidden by breaking the lines of your head and face if you wanted to blend into the foliage.  Make sure to wear the brim pushed down to help accomplish that tactic.
  • (1) Balaclava - These make great multi-purpose gear.  They can be worn as a hat, neck gaiter, scarf, or partial face mask.  I prefer wool as the fabric for these, but you can also opt for polyester if you get hot easily.  There are a lot of polypro balaclava's on the market, but I don't suggest them for the same reasons I stated above.  Balaclava's make great head-wear while sleeping in your sleeping bag at night.
  • (1) Wool sweater - You can also choose a wool button down shirt if you prefer.  These make a great insulating mid-layer.  They also make great pillows while sleeping in your sleeping bag.  I like 'Merino Wool' because it is a bit lighter, and softer.  If you decide to go with a sweater, get a turtle neck for added warmth.
  • (1) Fleece jacket or vest *Optional* - This is optional because you can just use the wool sweater from above as a mid-layer.  It is nice to have the extra insulation if you get cold easily on hand though.  I suggest a vest or jacket that has a full-zip front with some pockets.  As I have mentioned before, I prefer the Condor Micro Fleece that you can find here.
  • (1) Pair outer-shell pants - Try for something lightweight like Gore-Tex Paclite or DWR coated nylon.  These are useful as rain pants, or as a wind break in extremely cold conditions.
  • (1) Outer-shell jacket - This jacket should be of good quality, as it will take much abuse from your pack being on your shoulders, and from being subjected to the elements/terrain.  If weight is a problem for you go with Gore-Tex Paclite as it is very lightweight.  Be careful though as it is not as durable as some fabrics.  If you want something a bit more durable, but still waterproof and breathable, go with a jacket made with Gore-Tex Pro-Shell.  It is by far the most durable, waterproof fabric on the market today.  It tends to be very expensive, so start saving now.  You should not place this jacket in the actual compression sack, instead leaving it free near the top part of the inside of your pack to make it easier to get to.
     This next section is going to explain the items that I suggest you keep near, or attached to the bag to be 'put on' in the event that you have to bug-out.  Just to be certain you understand; say for example there are two pairs of underwear in your B.O.B. as explained above.  With the pair of underwear I suggest you keep outside of the bag if you have to flee, you will have a total of three pairs on you: (2 pairs in bag + 1 pair your wearing = 3 all together.)
  • (1) Pair of underwear - Same kind as the pairs I suggest you keep in the above B.O.B.
  • (2) Pair socks - One pair of liners like I suggest above, and one insulating wool pair.  Use this configuration during all seasons, even in the summer.
  • (1) Shirt - This depends on the season, and should be changed accordingly.  During fall/winter leave a light- to medium-weight base layer shirt.  During the spring/summer months wear a lightweight short-sleeve polyester or similar shirt.  If you want to save on weight, and or money, use one of the shirts that you keep in your bag from above.
  • (1) Pair of pants - This is the first, and only pants that I mention, because it's the only pants that I recommend you bring.  I personally prefer blended nylon or polyester, cotton ripstop TDU's or BDU's that our military and law enforcement wear.  Cargo packets are also a must.  Some people may want a better insulating layer like wool or fleece pants under these for warmth, but I personally can handle our coldest days with a base layer, these pants, and an outer Gore-Tex (or something similar) shell.  Some people may also prefer to bring some shorts.  I personally don't like wearing shorts in the bush, and wouldn't want to wear them while walking/running around a dangerous urban environment.  If you need to cool off and swim, do so in your nylon underwear as they will dry fast.  By the way, I know I often suggest staying away from cotton of any form in the bush, but blended cotton are a bit more comfortable then straight polyester or nylon.  The best way to deal with cotton blend pants, is to keep them dry in cold climates by wearing the outer shell pants I suggest.  I own the 5.11 TDU pants below, and can suggest them as they have held up to my abuse for a longtime, and still look almost new.
  • (1) Belt - Sort of an obvious one, but very important none the less.  I like to use a 1.75-inch thick nylon belt.  A good belt can have many uses; from a tourniquet, to strong latching.

  • (1) Jacket - I suggest using the fleece jacket that you keep in your pack here.  This is a fall/winter item, and can be placed back in your pack during the warmer months.  You can also use your outer shell jacket here as well.
  • (1) Pair of backpacking/hiking boots -  These are a very important item, and should not be skimped on.  Good boots can make bugging-out feasible or impossible.  Look for a pair that is meant for carrying heavy loads, like backpacking boots.  Also, it is imperative that they be waterproof.  I, once again, suggest a boot made with Gore-Tex.  You should also look for boots that use one-piece full-grain leather on the outside.  When you do get good boots, buy them a size bigger, as your feet will swell and you will have big socks on.  Make sure to take a week or so to break them in as well.  Here is my posts on my suggested boot system.  You can also choose to bring a pair of lightweight sandals for river crossings and to wear around base camp at night to relieve your feet if the temperature permits.
  • (1) Pair of gloves *Optional* - Really depends on the time of year, and personal preference.  I suggest keeping your leather work gloves in one of the pockets of your pants, so that if it's cold you have some insulation.  If it's a major disaster, you have some hand protection to help you with labor intensive things like; removing building debris, and getting around tactically.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Socks! An Explanation

     Proper socks can make a big difference in staying comfortable all year long.   If you walk a lot or go hiking, proper socks can be a godsend.  Rule number one for keeping your feet warm, toasty and comfortable is to keep your footwear, especially socks, dry.   By keeping your feet dry you help keep them warm and insulated in the winter, and comfortable, blister-free in the summer.  Wet feet can also promote fungus growth, and trench foot, which you definitively don't want to mess with.

     Layering and proper use of fabrics is, again, the key to obtaining this.  Also paying close attention to when your feet are wet and or cold, making sure to change socks and get your feet dry/warm as soon as possible.  When wearing boots, or shoes try not to tie the laces to tight as to restrict blood flow, and allow the circulation of air.  While taking a break, or stopping (i.e. getting to your office after your morning commute) take time to pay special attention to your feet, especially your socks.  If their wet, change them.  I recommend carrying an extra pair of socks either in your EDB, or leaving a pair or two in your office for the days your feet do get wet.  

     During warm/hot seasons, the main goal is to wick moisture away from the feet allowing them to breath.  Use of a thin, lightweight sock liner made from materials like silk, nylon, and polyester are excellent choices.  Polyester and nylon blends with stretching materials mixed in like Lycra are easy to find, and cheap.  You can also ditch socks all together if you wear sandals, but don’t expect your feet to be very clean when you get home after walking the city streets.  If you decide to wear leather shoes with no socks (which is in style right now) be very careful of forming blisters.  I really don't suggest this option but if you must, make sure to carry moleskin pads around and use them as soon as the problem starts, not after.

     As the thermometer starts to drop you are going to need more than sock liners to keep warm.  Keeping the sock liners as your base layer, you can start to use heavier, more insulating socks as the middle layer for your feet.   In these types of conditions I suggest medium, to heavy hiking socks.  I also suggest looking into buying a higher cut 'ski sock', because they don't cut off the circulation to the feet like normal cut socks do (there is a major artery located right where our normal socks lay, leading to poor circulation.) The fabrics I like to use are wool, or wool blends (wool mixed with synthetic fabrics dry faster) because it make an insulating, breathable mid-layer that help keep your feet warm and dry.  Polypropylene blends can be used for extremely cold weather due to its great insulating qualities, and super-fast drying time.  As a personal rule of thumb in cold weather, especially when outdoors, I never go to sleep with a wet layer on my feet.  I do not recommend, or use cotton or cotton blend socks anytime of the year.  They absorb sweat, and take a long time to dry.  If cotton is your only choice though, make sure you have multiple pairs, and change them often. 

     There are currently a number of companies that make great socks.  I suggest looking for hiking socks and trying a few different companies and materials to see what you prefer.  I personally love Patagonia and Smartwool wool socks.  When it comes to liners, you don't have to break the bank, just make sure they are a light material and dry fast.

These socks make great all-around lightweight socks for the warmer seasons here in the city.

These Patagonia liners are my personal favorite hiking/city walking sock liners.

Patagonia also makes really nice midweight hiking socks that are perfect for our winter weather.  Remember your liners though!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


     I have met quite a few New Yorkers during my time living here that can’t swim, and find it’s more than I originally realized.  It blows my mind whenever I find out.  Having grown up on a beach in New Jersey surfing many months of the year, it was a requirement of my youth.  I really can't tell you how I learned, because children that grow up near water just pick it up at some point.  All I know is, I'm very confident in the water.  This is not always the case for people who grew up in our land locked states.  A lot of people only know basic swimming from the time they spent in pools or lakes as children.  Some people will out right admit they don't know how to swim at all, due to never being taught, and having spent little to no time in large bodies of water.

     Turns out everyone actually does know how to swim, or at least did at some point of their lives.  Our bodies, like an animal's instinct, know exactly what to do.  What it boils down to when you get older is fear, and panic.  In a panicked tense state, your body will sink like a rock.  This leads most people to believe they can't swim, or are afraid to try.  Swimming, like most activities in life, is confidence, with a touch of familiarity.  Being able to jump into deep water while remaining calm and confident can be difficult for people who have had bad experiences when young.  The only real way to combat this is to swim in a safe environment like a pool.  Especially a somewhat shallow pool.  Then you can move up from there, going deeper and deeper, on your way up to ocean swimming.

     Swimming is a core requirement for the NYC Survivalist.  First of all, we in Manhattan live on an island.  I know it does not always feel like it, but it’s true; we are surrounded by water on all sides.  Second, there are no guarantees that the bridges and ferries will be open or in working conditions at all times.  Now I’m not saying that you should jump in the East, or Hudson river's and try and test your abilities as a swimmer, because chances are with those currents, you probably won't make it.  I’m suggesting that you take a few classes, and get the basics down.  

     Just because we live in the concrete jungle, doesn't mean we don' have options.  Places like the YMCA have indoor pools and classes you can take.  During the summer, you can use one of the many public pools NYC offers and get more familiar with swimming in a safe environment.  Or, if you would like to keep it a bit more personal, you can take private lessons.  

     Like I said before, swimming is confidence.  The only way you will get confident and comfortable in water, is to be in water.  Swimming is an amazing full-body work-out, and it's a cardiovascular powerhouse.  Even if you do a few laps a week in a pool, you will see results instantly.  On top of the fact that swimming, like jogging, is very therapeutic and let's you fall into a zen like state. 

     Other than a survival essential, it’s a life essential!  You can stock the most perfect, abundant provisions, but if you don’t know something as fundamental as swimming, there’s a big problem here and you are missing the point of survivalism.  You're not going to be much help in a disaster, if your the one needing the help.  You have to remember why we do this; to help you, and those you love live, prepare, and survive anything that comes our way so we can continue to have a happy, comfortable life.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Fabrics: Cotton

      Clothing with the three-layer system is crucial to staying comfortable and healthy in every season we have in The Big Apple.  We live in a temperate climate, with a wide range of temperatures and we see it all.  From highs in the hundreds and humidity that is oppressive, to lows in the single digits with a negative thirty wind chill.  Not to mention that the indoor, outdoor changes can be drastic. The subway in the summer is a perfect example of that; sitting on a hot ninety degree platform, sweating profusely, walking into a seventy degree subway cart is a sure way of making you chilled or worse yet sick!  Here in our urban environment we dress more for fashion then comfort.  Paying more attention to what’s “hot and trendy” as opposed to what’s well made and functional.  I know it is not always easy, but you can get good quality, well made clothing from some of the “outdoor” clothing companies that are up there with current fashion trends.  Companies like Patagonia, or The North Face make excellent “normal” clothing with great fabrics and up to date designs.  Not to mention these are excellent companies that give many things back to the environment.  I personally make an effort to buy clothing that looks fashionable, but also serves a purpose.  I never want to look out of place in full battle fatigues.  If you would like to keep things minimal, and don’t want to spend a fortune on a new wardrobe, I suggest buying one or two of the different layers, and then building up from there if you find you need a few more pairs of a certain layer.  For the outer-shell layer you will most likely only need one jacket.  You will probably want a few more pairs of your base layer, like underwear and socks, unless you hand wash them every night.

     The first step to understanding how to stay comfortable in your 'clothing microclimate' is figuring out good and bad fabrics.  Fabric can make all the difference in the world, and it turns out, most of us don’t have a very good understanding of them at all.  There are a bunch of wonder fabrics on the market these days and I am going to go over a few of these in my "Fabrics Posts" to clear up some of the misconceptions we have about them.


      If you look in your closet right now, you will find that ninety percent of the things you own are made of cotton.  In fact, most people that live in urban and suburban locations do.  I would like to say we’ve been duped, but I guess it has a few good applications; it’s cheap, comfortable against the skin, and it helps keep you a bit cooler in hot climates.  Beyond that it loses its luster quickly.  It is a hydrophilic, meaning it absorbs water, taking wetness from the skin, while sucking up any water in the air like rain or humidity not allowing the skin, or fabric, to dry.  When wet, it loses up to ninety percent of its insulating properties, and can actually suck the heat out of your body.  That may not be so bad on a hot day, but anything below the seventies, and you’re probably going to start getting cold real quick.  Like for instance, standing on the hot subway platform again, and walking into the cold subway cart with your wet cotton t-shirt on.  The drastic temperature change, and cottons lack of insulating properties would chill you to the bone in twenty minutes.  You can actually stay warmer without a shirt on when wet, rather than keeping a wet cotton shirt on.  Not that I suggest you ride the subway shirtless (even though I’ve seen it done, and it wasn’t a pretty site). You can wet it down intentionally though to cool yourself off, just remember that it takes a long time to dry, so if you’re going somewhere cool within a few hours, it may be a bad idea.   

      Cotton in a cold climate can be a death sentence, and some outdoor survivalists call it “death fabric”.  If you use it for any layer and it gets wet, you’re at risk of being really cold until you can find warm shelter or worse, risk hypothermia.  We use cotton in almost all base layer clothing such as socks and underwear, which constantly sweat even in cold climates.  Cotton socks make your feet much more susceptible to blisters if you wear them with hiking boots, or sneakers because of the sweat that area produces.  Since cotton takes a long time to dry, you need to either change socks, or stop and dry them because the blisters can become debilitating.  Because cotton loses heat twenty-five times faster than air once wet, our sensitive areas are prone to being very chilled throughout the cold weather months.  If you are outdoors or camping for extended periods of time in the winter, I suggest staying clear of cotton for any clothing article.  I can’t tell you how many times my feet were freezing in the winter due to the misconception of cotton and my lack of understanding the science behind good fabrics when I was younger!  Cotton can be a bit more useful when blended, but with all the wonder fibers, man-made and natural, there is really no reason to buy it other than it is cheap.  Just remember, that sometimes in life, you get what you pay for.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kits: NYC Survivalist Bug-Out-Bag (Toiletry Bag)

      The following is the separate toiletry bag I suggest for a bug-out bag.  Though you don't need to separate these items, I feel it's best for keeping things organized and easy to get to when you have sanitary needs.  Personal hygiene will be very important in any kind of bug-out situation, and is one of those things you can't dismiss.  The following are meant to keep your sanitary needs met in case you were forced to bug-out long-term.
  • Toiletry bag - I like my toiletry bag to be compact, and functional.  You can keep it simple and cheap by placing these items in doubled up gallon size zipper lock freezer bags or a small nylon pouch usually found in the make-up section at department stores.  If you're like me and want something a little more durable, I suggest looking into small bags typically made for first aid kits.  I prefer the Maxpedition FR-1 I link below, but it might be big for some peoples needs.  Maxpedition has a bunch of great pouches for this purpose here.  I like to stick all liquids in quart size zipper lock freezer bags to help from them spilling everywhere.
  • (1)Toothbrush - Size does not matter much here in my opinion.  Most toothbrush's are light, and compact.  What does matter is if it has a cover or not.  It is not very sanitary, and just plain dumb to not keep your toothbrush head covered.  It is actually good practice to keep your daily 'at home' toothbrush covered as well, to help protect from floating 'unsanitary' particles.  I prefer the following toothbrush that use the cover as a handle.
  • (1) Tube toothpaste - Up to you to get what type of toothpaste you prefer.  Though they have the small compact size tubes, I suggest the normal 'larger' ones.  I suggest this because if the bug-out situation is long-term, one of those small tubes won't last more then a month, even if they're rationed.  A properly rationed full-size toothpaste can last about a year if you needed it to.  If your worried about size, and weight you may decide against this, your call.
  • (1) Floss - Floss has many uses beyond its intended.  It can be used as thread, snares and so on.  Usually it is best if you buy the unwaxed kind for your kit.  You can get rid or the plastic case it comes in and place it in a small piece of plastic wrap.
  • A bunch of Q-tips - These have multiple uses, and are very lightweight.  One of their more useful applications is for use in cleaning equipment like your multitool.  Place them in a quart sized zipper freezer bag.
  • (1) Razor or straight edge - This again is up to you, but I would suggest learning how to shave with a straight edge or safety blade.  Though they might be a bit heavier then the plastic disposable razor's on the market today, they will last indefinitely.  Using a straight edge can be more expensive then disposables, but they pay for themselves after a year or so of use.  A straight edge also has the benefit of being a very sharp cutting utility for delicate cutting jobs like skinning.  Here is an article on straight edge shaving, and here's one on safety blades.
  • (1) Shaving cream - My skin tends to not be sensitive to shaving, so I can skip actual shaving cream and use something like soap or moisturizer.  I prefer using a moisturizer as I can shave without water if needed.  You can buy a big container like below, and place the liquid in a smaller plastic container made for traveling.
  • (1) Soap - There are a few options on the market right now, and it can get a bit confusing.  I like the liquid camping soaps that have multiple purposes (i.e.body soap, soap for fabrics, soap for your dishes/utensils) and that are biodegradable.  Because this soap has many uses, you should have a bigger bottle of it.  I suggest the company No Rinse as they have great products, and are a trusted company.  Be careful to ration this stuff properly, as it is a bit watery when used and can come flying out of the bottle.  If you decide to get a bigger bottle, it won't fit in your toiletry bag, but I'm sure you can find room in your bug-out-bag.
  • (1) Bottle shampoo *Optional* - I put this as optional because you can technically use the above soap for your hair as well.  This stuff just does a better job, and could be useful for the people in your family that have long hair.
  • (1) Bottle liquid hand sanitizer - I suggest the liquid over the wipes, because the wipes will only last so long.  What makes the liquid nice is that you can ration it.  This stuff is useful if you need to sanitize your hands after cleaning game, or touching things that can be laden with bacteria.  It's also good to use a little on your hands after having to wipe your behind when you have no sink or clean water to wash them with.  Hand sanitizers can  keep your smelly B.O. from getting out of control as well.  Take a bit of this stuff and put it in the areas that smell the most (i.e. underarms, and crotch area.)  Be careful, because these sanitizers are mostly alcohol and can really irritate those with sensitive skin.
  • (1) Deodorant *Optional* - I personally don't carry it because I would use the above soap or sanitizers to help with B.O.  But if you must, then I suggest one of the rock salt deodorants that are on the market right now.  They are small, somewhat functional, very safe to use, and last a very very long time.
  • (1) Small container of powder - There are a ton of uses for this stuff, and I suggest carrying at least a small amount of it in your kit.  Powder helps keep your skin dry, and can prevent rashes in annoying places.  It can also be used in your hair to keep it oil free, leading to less washes.
  • (1) Type of toilet paper *Optional* - What?!Optional, NO WAY!  I can hear you thinking it now.  Yes, optional.  I am only mentioning it for those that don't know how to properly 'clean' themselves while in the bush.  You can have compact toilet paper, or biodegradable wipes, but you will eventually run out.  Then what?  I suggest learning how to handle cleanliness before you end up in the situation.  You have a few options if you decide to not use toilet paper, many of which have been used (and are still used in many countries of the world) for generations.  Leaves and rocks, are the most common when in the backcountry.  You can also use rags, newspaper, books, or catalogs (as many a Sears catalog was used back in the day.)  One of the simplest, and cleanest ways is to poor water (if you have an abundance of it) down the small of your back, while using your hand to wipe away the bad stuff.  This method obviously requires you not to use that hand until you properly sanitize it, hence why I suggest hand sanitizer and soap.
  • (1) Container of Bug-spray *Optional* - This is usually optional for most people until they sleep outdoors on a warm summer night.  I personally like having some on me because bugs seem to like biting me often.  I suggest a small bottle of a bug-spray that contains about 30% Deet.  Deet is not the safest chemical in the world, but it is by far the most effective.  Try not to use it until you can't stand it another minute, or if it is affecting your sleep.

  • (1) Bottle sun-block - Sun-block can be very important even if you have proper clothes.  The sun can reflect much of its UV rays off of things like water and snow leading to bad sun-burn.  Sun-burn can damage the skin, and lead to dehydration much sooner then normal.
  • (1) Plastic comb - These things are little, and practically weigh nothing.  I'm sure you would use it if you had it.
  • (1) Nail clipper - These are hard to replace in the wild, and can be much safer to use then scissors or a knife.  A small durable pair will suffice.
  • (1) Tweezers - Though you should have a good pair in your first aid kit and if you don't, replace them.  You should carry a spare 'back-up' pair in this kit.  Tweezers are impossible to replicate in nature, and can be a literal lifesaver.
  • (1) Small mirror - Even though you should have one or two mirrors in your kit, this is more for convenience.  This way when you need a mirror for shaving or what have you, it's in this kit where you need it.
  • Feminine products - If your a female, you might think I'm suggesting these for obvious reasons, but I am not.  They are actually useful for tinder, or as a compress for a bad cut or wound.  Though they can be used for there intended purposes, there are better, sustainable options then Tampons, and Maxipads.  For women (or survival minded husbands) that are concerned about what to do about the female menstrual cycles while bugging-out long-term, there are a few options.  I won't get into them to much, but I'll give you a push in the right direction.  You can use items available in nature, but what I found to be the most reasonable item can be found here.  It may be a bit unconventional, but it is a very interesting idea and can be used indefinitely.  If you would like to read more about it, there is a wonderful article here


    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Three-Layer System

          A layer system does not seem like a new concept to us, considering that we dress in layers all the time.  The effective ideas behind the three-layer system are simple in nature, but a bit different then what we’re used to.  Practiced by woodsman, campers, skiers, and survivalists for centuries, it is by far the most effective way to dress for any and all outdoor excursions.  Knowledge of this system can keep you comfortable in any and all climates whether indoors or out.   It can also protect you from the elements like wind, rain and the sun. 

         The secret to being comfortable all day long in our ever changing climates, is in the way you regulate your body’s temperature by building a microclimate through proper use of your clothing.  Three different, multi-purpose layers all working together with your body's natural temperature.  The climate outside determine the fabric for each layer, or if that layer is needed.  The main and most important reason, other than comfort, for the layers are to stay dry, especially in colder climates. 

         To stay dry, you want to constantly pay attention to how much your body heats up due to activities, shedding clothes the more active and sweaty you get.  Try and always stay on the cool side avoiding sweat if at all possible.  A few ways to cool off and regulate your body temperature are to remove a hat, unzip a layer or two, drink water, or just take a small break.  If you start getting cold you can add another layer, zip up, drink hot liquids, or eat some food.  Food, especially high caloric foods, heat the body up because of the effort it takes to break it down in your system and is very similar to adding fuel to a fire, making it hotter.  In fact, the word “calorie” was first described as a unit of heat and later became a common term for a unit of food energy.

    Base layer

          The base layer is the layer that is in direct contact with your skin.  It is your socks, underwear, liners, etc.  The main point of this layer, beyond keeping you a bit warmer in the winter, is to “wick” away moisture from your body.  Wicking is a fabrics ability to allow moisture to move away from your skin while dispersing it into the layers above or into the air.  It also allows the garment to dry much quicker than other non-wicking fabrics (like cotton).

          In the summer your layer should be lose and flowing, allowing the wind to dry the excess sweat, helping you stay a bit less constricted and comfortable.  Breathable, light fabrics that can wick large amounts of sweat are suggested.   I prefer my base layer in the summer to be made of fabrics like polyester, nylon, or Capiline because of their quick drying abilities.  I typically wear short sleeved shirts, but when I do wear long sleeves I make sure it’s a polyester blend so that when it does get wet, it dries quickly.  I do occasionally wear a cotton t-shirt during warm weather for comfort and ease.  I don’t wear cotton when I’m out of the apartment for an extended period of time, and I never ever wear it when camping, hiking, or for any activities in the bush.  The point of clothing in the hot summer months is to protect the skin by keeping the sun off the body.  Sunburn can lead to dehydration, and effect the body’s natural ability to cool itself through sweat.  Also make it a point to constantly drink water to help your body keep its core temperature regulated.

          For the colder winter months the base layer should be form fitting, not allowing the bodies heat to escape and dissipate into the air.  Warming fabrics such as wool or polypropylene can be used to add insulation to your base layer.   I suggest having a lightweight fabric base layer (such as polyester, ultra light merino wool, or Capiline) if, like me, you are always hot and sweating.   If it’s really cold, or you are prone to getting cold easily, (Women tend to get colder than men due to the fact that the blood vessels near the surface of their skin constrict sooner than men’s especially in the extremities.) wear a mid-weight fabric like something made of wool, or a wool blend with polyester (to help it dry quicker).  The base layer shirt should have a zipper at the neck to be unzipped when you are heated up by activities to help regulate the microclimate.  You should also have light to mid-weight long underwear bottoms depending on how hot you get normally, and how much activity you plan on doing.

          Make sure to keep yourself a bit cool to reduce the amount of sweat you produce by taking off or adding layers.  Sweating too much into your base layer during cold weather can make you wet which, if not taken care of immediately, can be very dangerous and potentially lead to hyperthermia.

    Middle layer

          The middle layer, or mid-layer, is meant to insulate the body, by retaining the body’s heat, and continue with the moisture transfer initiated by the base layer to help you stay dry.  By slowing heat loss, and creating a dead air space around your body, you can stop the exchange of cold air and your body’s heat.  The thicker the fabric and more layers you add to your mid-layer determine how warm you can make yourself.
         In warmer climates you may decide to leave this layer home, but I suggest always carrying a basic long sleeve shirt.  Having a light weight, long sleeve, shirt made of polyester or cotton in the heat can help keep the sun of your skin, wick away sweat, and give you a little extra insulation if you end up getting chilled due to constantly going into air conditioned buildings and subway carts.

          For the cold weather, the mid-layer is what keeps you from staying cold and frigid in the harsh climate.  Wearing fabrics like wool or polypro are great for mid-layer items due to their abilities to keep you warm and dry.  You can play around with light weight and medium weight mid-layers to see which you prefer best.  As a rule of thumb, where light weight mid-layers when active (commuting on foot, hiking, biking) and medium to heavy weight when less active (waiting for bus, strolling through the park).  Try to get items that have zippers to allow you to vent and cool quickly and easily.   I like to wear multiple mid-layers such as a sweater and a light jacket to give me even more control of my clothing microclimate.

    Outer layer

          The outer layer is your clothing’s shell. This “shell” shields you, and your clothing, from the elements like wind, rain, and snow.  It is the first line of defense, and is just as important as the other layers to let moisture from your body escape.

          In a warm climate, an outer shell can consist of a basic nylon rain coat or poncho to protect you from the wind and rain.  Wearing this shell when not getting wet can lead you to over-heating and is not suggested beyond protection.

          During the cold months of the year your outer layer is important to containing, and protecting your inner layers.  A Gore-Tex jacket, or something similar, will keep you from getting wet and allow the moisture from your body, and other layers, to evaporate into the air.  You can further your protection by also wearing nylon, or Gore-Tex pants if the forecast predicts precipitation on your travels.  The outer layer protects you from the wind in cold climates as well, which is of great importance.  Wind replaces the hot air your middle layer has trapped with cold air, and leaves you chilled to the bone.  Without this protective layer, wind and rain can leave you susceptible to hypothermia no matter how warm your base and middle layer have you.

         Here is a link to a YouTube video that does a good job explaining a typical cold weather trek layer system.


    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Company Review: MyTopo.Com

         Today I'm going to talk about an online company that I have used and can recommend.  It is called MyTopo, and it gives you topographical maps (and aerial, or satellite) of anywhere in the US and Canada.  It allows you to customize which type you want, add personal information, and if you would like it sent to you waterproof, glossy, or laminated.  They can also get it to you very quickly(24 hours), if you would like.

         These maps can be great for people who love to camp, hike, or check-out new and interesting out of the way places (like myself).  I suggest you get a map of the state park, or forest you often hike in, if that's what your into.  What it means for the NYC Survivalist is that you can have a detailed map of a location you could possibly "bug-out" to in the event that you needed.  You can also get a map or two of your proposed escape route out of the city.  A satellite map could show you paths or side streets that the masses may not be aware of.  It can help show you a possible walking, or bike riding route as well.  The great part about these maps is that you don't need to rely on an electronic device like GPS, you just need the map and compass.

         You can start to scope out possible bug-out locations with their free online topo maps, or Google.  When you see something promising, take a day trip out there.  If it's a place you like, a bit off the beaten path, you can print up the appropriate maps to get you there.

         If you have a bug-out location, a detailed map (topo, and satellite) are a must.  You need to get a copy of a few different routes, and keep it in your bug-out bag.  You can then navigate to your location by any means necessary.  So if the streets and highways are a mess, because the city would have a mass exodus (due to a disaster), you could be confident in knowing where to go, and not get lost by using your map.  Not to mention that if their was a disaster that forced the whole city to bug-out, you would most likely have to bug-out by bike or foot.

         As New Yorker's, we know where we are in the city, and where we are going by the numbered blocks and avenues.  Bring us outside of the city, and it's a different story all together.  Having a good map and compass, and knowing how to orientate yourself with them, are just one way to help give you, and your family safety through self-reliance.  And is one more step to taking control of your own destiny, instead of having to rely on others.


    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Survival Library: Cody Lundin's Books

          My 'Survival Library' book's today are from a survivalist who has become more popular recently with his hit Discovery show "Dual Survival".  His name is Cody Lundin, and his approach to survival, survival prep, and environmentalism are interesting to say the least.  He bases his survival skills on the premise that the easier and more simplistic, the better.  Not only does Cody teach survival, but he has "literally" lived it for many years of his life.  From being homeless, to living in a yurt, to now living in a 'very low' impact, underground home in Arizona, he practices what he preaches. 

          His first book "98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive!" is about survival in an outdoor setting (i.e. getting lost while in the backcountry.)  As the name suggests, he really dives into the number one killer of people when lost in the bush; exposure.  He explains the importance of keeping your core body temperature at 98.6 degrees so that you don't succumb to 'hyperthermia' or 'hypothermia'.  Cody presents his books with a sort of comical approach.  Between his funny pictures, drawn skillfully by Russ Miller, and his uncensored print, it's definitely not The Army Survival Manual.  I really appreciate Cody's sense of humor, and love his simplistic style but, he ironically gets very technical (a.k.a. boring) when he starts explaining some of the more scientific aspects of survival.  It's almost like a brilliant doctor comes along, writes the meat of Cody's books, and then Cody comes in and puts in his snarky remarks here and there.  Not that I believe that's what Cody does, and doesn't know what he's talking about, far from it.  What I do believe is that he is obviously very intelligent, especially when it comes to the scientific stuff, and can get very technical at times.  I think it's ironic though, because Cody Lundin is known as a bit of a "bush hippie" in the survival community.  So to read his stuff, and realize that he sort of bores me when he goes off on a 'technical tangent', was a bit ironic.  

         Cody explains his preferred, and suggest survival kit in "98.6 Degrees", and its simplicity really sets it apart from most survival kits.  Because Cody lives, and teaches in a desert environment, his kit is based on a more arid survival environment, but that doesn't mean you can't use the items and ideas from it.  He suggests items that are functional, cheap, easily replaceable, and even easier to function in a stressed situation.  His kit covers the five basics; shelter, water, food, fire, and medical and is explained in detail in the book.

         On a side note, Cody prefers to use Mora carbon steel knives, and wears one around his neck.  He's not the first survivalist to really appreciated the Mora, and not the first to wear a neck knife, but he's the first you will see on a mainstream survival show use it.  I too have been a fan of the carbon steel Mora's for a while, and am real happy to see a TV survivalist use this simple, efficient knife.  Here is a link to a few of my posts on knives.

         Cody's next book; "When All Hell Breaks Loose; Stuff You Need to Survive When Disaster Strikes", is suppose to be about how urban, and suburban peoples should prepare for, and how to survive a disaster.  It sort of misses this objective though, in my opinion.  Instead, it's more of a book on proper camping procedures, and what you should do if you were forced to long-term bug-out.  It's still a good read though, and shares the same artist, Russ Miller, and Cody's wacky sense of humor (which I thoroughly enjoy) from 98.6 Degrees.  It also touches upon many of the topics bought up in "98.6 Degrees", but gets into much more detail.  "When All Hell Breaks Loose" is also twice as long as "98.6 Degrees".  WAHBL's real strong points are in its explanations of 'very intelligent' homesteading techniques and, because Cody lives in a desert, its detailed information on proper storage, disinfecting, usage, and conservation of water.  He really drives home the fact that; humans really do waste this precious resource.

         You can tell Cody has lived an interesting life from these books.  You can also tell he has lived, not only taught, these lessons for years.  In truth, his books leave in me a real desire to read more about his unique life, and I prey he does something more autobiographical someday.  I would also love to read more about his home, and his everyday homesteading techniques.

         I really love Cody's simplistic/minimalistic style.  Whenever I find myself getting a little "gear crazy", thinking I need all the newest, and greatest survival gear on the market, I just pick up one of his books, look over his gear list, and relax.  Cody is my voice of reason, and reminds me that skills and knowledge comes first, and that complicated gear can be a nuisance, and is best left in the store.  I mean, the guy walks through the toughest terrain in the world barefoot, practically naked with a $15 knife.  If he is not a minimalist survivor, I don't know who is.

         Check out my Cody Lundin storefront page for gear that Cody uses in his survival kit. 


    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Kits: NYC Survivalist Bug-Out-Bag

          This can seem like a lot of stuff, but I promise it can all fit into a fair sized backpack.  You should keep most items weatherproof by placing them in dry sacks, Zip-lock bags, or cut a large, thick garbage bag and fit it into your pack as a pack liner.  As this is a long list, and I already gave you an introduction, I'm going to get right into it.  If you want the list with no Amazon links, click here.
    • Backpack - I personally suggest, and use, an external frame backpack.  It can carry a heavier load, and has multiple configurations.   External frames also give you the option to tie many of the bigger items to the outside of the pack.  Internal frames are very popular these days, are well made, but not ideal for a B.O.B. load.  They are more expensive then external packs though, as they are more sought after.  Better for us.

    • Light sleeping bag - There are a few options here when it comes to a light sleeping bag/shelter systems.  You can do what the military do and sleep in a modular type system which is; a sleeping bag, inside a warming mid-layer, with an outer-layer shell made of Gore-Tex or similar (think three-layer system).  You place the whole thing on the ground and sleep in it, as it's weatherproof.  It's a bit claustrophobic, but the system does only weigh about 9lbs.  Or you can do a synthetic sleeping bag (I suggest a 25-5 degree rated bag) inside a bivy, tent, tarp, or hammock.  The bag in this system alone, can weigh 3-4 lbs.  I'll talk a bit more about that in your shelter options below.)

    • Light sleeping pad - Most people think that they can 'ruff' it and sleep on the ground.  There is more then one reason why this is a bad idea.  First of all, sleep is very, very important for a survivor of any disaster.  With all the stress your body is going through, a lack of proper sleep because your uncomfortable, can be deadly.  The next problem is a little something called "conduction".  You can lose an enormous amount of heat by sleeping against the cold ground, as your body will 'conduct' the cold from it.  I own and suggest the folding one offered by Therm-a-rest below.
    • Tent,bivy bag, tarp, hammock - This all depends on preference, and family size, but I would not suggest you carry more than a 2 person, 3 season tent.  If you have a few people in your group, then someone else can carry a smaller tent or bivy as well.  Tents, and bivy style tents offer the best, long term protection against the elements.  A bivy bag (small one person tent that is light and portable) is a good, lightweight option for a single person, but you will have to sleep separately if you have a 2+ family (they make 2 person bivy bags, I call them really small tents...)  Don't forget that if you are a 2 person family, you can distribute the weight of a tent between both packs.  Hammocks are very lightweight, and allow you to sleep off the ground away from the creepy crawlies.  They are not the best as a long-term shelter because they are not very weatherproof, and some people don't sleep well in them.  Mind you, some people swear by hammocks.  To each their own.  Here is a link to a great hammock company.  Last, is a bag like I mentioned above: multi-layer.  A tarp can be roped up above you to keep off precipitation, and sun-light.  It's a good option, as the military uses it, but once again, it's not very comfortable, and not great for long-term use. 
    • (1)Tarp - Even if you don't use this as your shelter set up, it is imperative that you have one in your bag.  These amazing pieces of gear have many uses; portable shade, rain catch, pack cover, shelter, seat, blanket, etc.  A fair sized one should do.  The one with the mylar mentioned below can be used as a signaling device also, if your looking to be found...  Tarps; don't run from impending doom without one!  Here are two sites with strong tarps I can suggest.  The first is from The Canteen Shop.  And the second is from Hennesy Hammocks, this one doubles as a poncho, I am looking to buy this one soon and I'll update you on how well it performs.

    • (2) Mylar space blankets - As I have mentioned on this blog before, there is no reason not to carry a few of these in your various kits, as their uses are endless.
    • (2) 55 Gallon drum liner - Or contractor bags.  Just as useful as mylar blankets.  Used for many things like shelter, rain gear, or a place to catch and store water.  You can also use these as a waterproof backpack cover.

    • (1) Poncho *Optional* - If you read this blog, you know I love my poncho.  Seems redundant, and it probably is, but I find them very useful.  If you carry around a tarp, or contractor bags, you can use them as a poncho.

    • Assorted zip-lock bags - At least 3 quart size, and 3 gallon size.

    • Rope - Preferably 50-100 feet of 550 paracord.  I use rope for everything, and always make sure to have some on me.  You can bet your ass you will need it in a bug-out situation.
    • Duct tape - Follow this link for 101 uses for duct tape.  Bring a few feet of it.  You can unwrap it from the roll and attach it to things in a more conveniently transportable way.  It can be wrapped and unwrapped a few times, before it loses its adhesiveness.  It was originally made to repair bullet holes in airplane bodies, I think you can find a few uses for it if you bug-out.

    • Bungee cord *Optional* - Used to wrap around backpack to hold external pieces in place (i.e. tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag.)
    • Zip-ties - Have a few assorted sizes in your pack.  They take up little space, and have multiple uses.
    • (2) Bandanas - Great to have.  One of them can be substituted with a recon wrap which I prefer.  Used for slings, pre-filters, head-wrap, rag, etc.
    • (1) Mosquito head net - Useful for its intended use, or as a drying bag for your clothes while hiking.  Attach to the outside of your pack, drop your wet clothes inside, and continue on your way.
    • Clothing - This is actually a very important topic.  Here is a separate post with my suggestions.  It covers hats, insulating gloves, footwear, and all the layers I suggest you have with you.
    • (1) Pair work gloves - Preferably a cheap, light, leather work glove.  You can use them for picking up hot objects, or some heavy work like chopping wood.  I like to put a small hole in them, and hang them on a carabiner off my pack or belt.
    • (1) Pair sunglasses - Impact resistant with proper UV protection.  Keeping your eyes protected can be very important in the midst of a disaster, or while in the backcountry hiking.  I like sunglasses with a neck cord to keep them secure to my head.
    • (1) Optics - In a situation where you don't want to be seen or found, being able to see long distance has a major, tactical advantage.  I suggest something small, compact, and easy to carry.  Also make sure they are either durable or have a good case.
    • (1) Set trekking poles *Optional* - I consider these optional, even though they make a world of difference when hiking long distances with a heavy load.  If you are in great shape, and are young, you will probably not need them.  If, like most people, you are getting a bit up there in years or you are not very conditioned, you will need good trekking poles.  Poles are a big plus for women, who tend to have smaller frames than men, and have a difficult time with a heavy pack on their backs.  Strap these to the outside of your pack.

    • (4) Microfiber towels - These, like most of my gear, have multiple uses.  You can use them to acquire water from a puddle.  Or you can tie them to the outside of your pants, over the shins, to collect a bit of drinking water from morning dew while you walk through high grass.  Separate two of them (I put them in quart sized Zip-lock bags) to use as either drying towels after you get wet, or to spot clean yourself like a wash cloth.
    • (1) Hand towel *Optional* - I attach this to the outside of my pack so I can use it to do things like dry my hands.
    • Toiletry bag - A separate pouch filled with your toiletries.  You can probably figure out what you will need, but here is a post on what I suggest.
    • (1) Biodegradable camp soap - Used for cleaning your dishes and utensils.  Can also be used to clean your smelly body, and laundry.  Use sparingly.  A useful way of cleaning your fabrics (towels, and clothes) is to lay it in the sun for a few hours depending on the time of year, and amount of sunlight.  UV radiation kills the bacteria in fabric that causes it to smell.  Useful tip when hiking, is to attach your socks/undergarments from the top of your pack to soak up sun rays while you walking on a sunny day.  
    • (1) Small trowel *Optional* - For digging, but mainly for proper waste disposal which is discussed in a great article here.  I make it optional because you could technically use a stick or rock to dig.
    • (2) Fixed blade knives - Bet you were wondering when I was going to mention this.  Two knives, both fixed blades.  I am a big fan of Mora carbon steel knives.  Other then the fact that their cheap, and very well made, they are damn easy to sharpen due to carbon steels softness.  They may need a bit more attention (don't store them wet), and are not as shiny as some on the market, but I love them.  Carbon steel also has the added benefit of giving you sparks for starting fire if you strike the back of the blade against a hard, sharp surface like a pointed rock.  The Mora is my all-around use knife.  I have used SOG Seal Pups for years, and though they are good knifes, I hate having to sharpen their hard metal when in need of it.  The second fixed blade I suggest is a Ka-Bar fighting knife.  Not really in the bag, but instead I have it on the outside of the bag for attaching to my belt.  It would be used for defensive purposes mainly.  Do Not carry the Ka-Bar outside of your apartment in the city, as it is illegal, and you will go to jail!  It's an "in case of emergency" knife.

    • (1) Multi-tool - Guess I lied, I have three knives.  This one is more of a tool, with the benefit of a good blade.  The real gem of a good multi-tool is that it has pliers, and wire-cutters all in a compact, reasonably light package.  This knife is part of my EDC, and is always located near my B.O.B.
    • (2) Knife sharpeners - Just as important as the knives themselves.  A dull knife makes you expend more energy, and is just dangerous to use.  Maybe redundant, but the small pocket one is extremely light.  You can also get a small, ceramic rod or stone.
    • (1) Hand saw, hatchet or machete - Everyone has a personal preference, and each has pros and cons.  I like using a folding hand saw, because they are compact and lightweight.  I suggest a hatchet, or axe in my apartment gear list, so if you had the room to carry it you could.  To me it's not worth the weight.  A machete has a few worth while uses especially as a weapon, but once again I just can't justify the weight.  I leave it up to you to decide what you prefer.  Check out this sites if your looking for a good axe, and or machete.
    • (1) Small bottle of WD-40 - This stuff is priceless, can be used to maintain knives, lubricate rusted items, remove grease, and many more things.

    • (1) Flashlight, headlamp or both - Preferably a headlamp because of their size and function.  Just think of how much easier things are with your light attached to your head.  I suggest carrying both, a little redundancy here would not hurt.

    • (4) AA Batteries, (4) AAA batteries - Preferably rechargeable NiMH's, because if the bug-out is long-term you will need batteries that have a sustainable power supply.  Read my post here about the pros and cons of rechargeable batteries.  Make sure to keep these batteries in the original package, and label them with the date of purchase.
    • (1) Solar battery charger - These things are compact, and very useful for charging the above batteries.  They are expensive, but are useful for bugging-out, or bugging-in (bugging-in is when you are stuck indoors for an extended period of time after a disaster, think pandemic.)  Make sure to get an adapter for whatever phone you use so you can keep that charged, if you end up being able to use it.  Do your homework before buying these.  Check this site for some good ones.  Also here.
    • (1) Small Radio - Essential!  Has to have either a hand crank, be solar powered, or better yet both.  AM, FM, and weather band.  Read my post on the following radio here.
    • (1) Set of headphones - Preferably small light ones.  These are for keeping a low profile while listening to the radio.
    • (2) Forms of water purification - Chemical halogen, filter or Steripen.  Pick at least two to keep in your bug-out-bag.  I personally use a filter, and tincture of iodine 2%.  Your local Duane Reade carries small bottles of iodine, and their cheap.  You can get iodine, and chlorine in pill form as well.  They are easily transportable and take up little room when they are in foil pouches.  Some good Steripens, which are a reliable way to disinfect drinking water with UV light, have portable solar recharge kits that make these much more desirable.  I will be writing a post on how to procure, disinfect, and everything water soon.

    • Emergency water packets - Because a bug-out situation can happen suddenly and without warning, you should keep at least a days worth of these packets on you in case you can't find a water source you can disinfect right away.

    • (1-2) 32 oz. Nalgene bottle, army style canteen or stainless steel bottle - This is another one that is your personal preference.  I have been a fan of army style canteens with canteen cups for years, because they are convenient, and easy to transport.  A 32 oz. Nalgene bottle can also be fairly easy to carry, though a bit bulky, and can be fitted with a stainless steel cup.  Nalgene bottles have the added benefit of allowing my MSR water filter to screw right on to the top for easy filtering.  Stainless steel bottles are for people who want something functional, and versatile.  You can use it as a water bottle, and a container that you can use to boil water in.  If you do end up using a stainless steel bottle, spray paint the outside of it with a high-heat enamel paint, then set it on a fire for a few hours to temper it before you boil water in it.  Use a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil as a cover while heating things up for either the canteen cup, or stainless steel bottle.
    • (2) Water storage containers - Water is going to be the most important thing you can have a supply of when bugging-out.  Water is life, and without it you can die in only about three days.  Ways to store water can be important, and I prefer two containers for it.  One is for treated potable water, and the other is for contaminated, waiting to be made safe water.  The system I suggest is nice because it allows me to use my one bag as a hydration pack, and a water container.  The bag is also compatible with my water filter, because they are made by the same company; MSR, which makes filtering large amounts of water a breeze.  I suggest a second, large portable container for untreated water as well.  This way you will not cross contaminate your water supplies.  Label them with big bright signs accordingly.  For the MSR bag below, I suggest getting the hydration, and shower kits.

    • (1-4) Non-lubricated condoms - These guys take up no room, and can be used in a pinch to carry almost a gallon of water.
    • (1) Stainless steel cup or canteen cup - This can be used as a cup to boil liquids, and cook foods.  Also useful as a cup, and container that can be disinfected over a fire.  You can get a very good quality canteen cup here.
    • Heavy-duty aluminum foil - Tear a few sheets from a roll, fold them up, and put into a Zip-lock bag.  There are a ton of uses for aluminum foil, I mainly use it as a lid to my cooking containers.

    • Food - Yup, you guessed it; I'm going to do a separate post on some foods I suggest you keep in your B.O.B.  For quick reference, think things that last long, and don't spoil.  There are a ton of options, and I will attempt to give you some good ideas in my future post.  Here is a video on what people have used for years, and I definitely suggest you learn to how to make it; bannock.
    • (1) Spork - You can't go wrong, two utensils in one, and extremely light.
    • (1) Manual can opener - Though your multi-tool most likely has one, a hand-crank can be easier, and more familiar to use when your stressed.  Besides, a back-up of one of these does not take up much room or weight.  What good would all those cans of food you "find" lying around on store shelves be if you can't open them?!
    • Compact cooking pots - This all depends on the size of your family, and what you prefer.  If you have more then one of you to contend with, you need a bigger cooking pot system.  There are many light camping pot systems on the market, and I can suggest companies like MSR.  Do your homework, and see what's right for you in your situation.  Don't forget the fact that if you do have a few people in your family, you can "distribute" the weight.  You can just go with your canteen or stainless steel cup, that I mention above, if you want to keep it minimal and light.  I don't recommend that though, because familiar comforts will be paramount in long-term survival situations, and having a way to cook things properly are very important.
    • (1) Portable stove - There are actually a bunch of lightweight, functional stoves on the market right now.  These stoves are great, and will cook things much quicker then a more rudimentary stove.  You will eventually run out of fuel though, then what?  I prefer something that does not need a 'hard to acquire' fuel supply.  My personal choice is small, very lightweight, but needs a bit more know-how, and attention then the fancy canister stoves on the market right now.  The Vargo company makes a great small titanium wood-burning stove that you can purchase here.  You can turn the wood stove into an alcohol stove with the following, linked by Amazon, item.  You place it inside the wood stove, and burn something like a denatured alcohol.  In a bug-out situation, you will most likely be able to cook by fire pit.  These little stoves, are great for when you want to keep a low profile. 
    • (3) Ways to make fire - Lighter, storm-proof matches, firesteel, Fresnel lens, magnifying glass, etc.  Pick what you are most comfortable with using.  I prefer firesteel (or metal match) as one of my methods.  I will be doing a post on firecraft soon where I will explain the different ways to start, build, and maintain a fire.
    • Weatherproof tinder - There are a few different weatherproof tinder's on the market right now, but the best and easiest to acquire are simple Vaseline soaked cotton balls.  Here is a quick video explaining how to make them.  You can use your hands to put Vaseline in the cotton as well, if you don't mind the mess.  You can put 4-5 soaked balls into film canisters, or you can do what I do; and place them into a quart sized Zip-lock bag with a small piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.  You can use a burning ball, on top of the aluminum foil as a portable light source that lasts for about 10 minutes.  Another great tinder is a magnesium bar with striker on it.  These give you portable, weatherproof tinder with a way to light it all in one simple, cheap package.  I like to drill holes into the bar producing magnesium shavings.  I then place the shavings into a small film canister.  Magnesium bars are hard, and can be a real pain in the ass to shave when your cold, or wet.  If you need a fire now, the pre-shavings can be a life saver, literally.
    • 100 Hour candle *Optional* - Great for light, or for getting wet tinder to dry.  Optional because it's a bit redundant.  You have other ways to make light, and start "wet" fires. 
    • (1) Compass and map - A compass is a very important piece of equipment.  I actually have 2 on me on all times with my EDC system.  Even if you don't know how to orientate yourself using a map and compass, knowing which way your traveling in a bug-out situation could be key to survival.  Getting away from cities and crowds, will most likely be the name of the game.  You can read a post on personalized topo maps here.  I will be doing...wait for it... a post (of coarse!!) about how to make use of a compass, and also some very easy ways of finding out the cardinal points.  You should either take a coarse, read a book or look online to get a basic idea of orientating yourself using a map and compass.

    • (1) Whistle - A simple, "pea-less" whistle is great for signaling.  Lasts longer, and is louder then your voice.
    • (1) Fishing kit - I leave this up to you to figure out what you want.  It is not optional because fishing is a way to important means of acquiring food.  You don't have to get a huge kit, with all kinds of line and tackle, keep it simple.  Make sure to have a spool of strong monofilament for fishing, and for use as thread with the following sewing kit.  Here is a good pre-made fishing kit from Dave Canterbery's storefront.  It sells out often though, and is hard to get your hands on.
    • (1) Sewing kit - Once again, keep it simple.  Place these items in a Zip-lock bag, or small nylon case.  Make sure it contains a few different size needles, and thread.  Also make sure to put in it ways to repair fabrics like Gore-Tex, nylon, and polyester.  Keep boot wax in it as well.  Dry feet are extremely important, so worth the added weight.
    • (1) Spool of snare wire - You can use many things for snare wires.  I suggest going to the local hardware store and checking things out in the picture hanging department.  Keep at least 20' or so in your bag, and I suggest keeping it in the bag you keep your sewing gear.  You also need to know how to use and set snares.  Look into some survival videos or books about easy to set snares.
    • (1) First aid kit - I have basic first aid knowledge, and although I prefer building most of my kits, when it comes to my first aid kits, I buy them pre-made.  There are a bunch of different kits on the market right now, and it can get confusing.  I prefer ones made by Adventure Medical Kits.  Depending on how many people you have in your group, you can opt for a large comprehensive kit.  Either way, I suggest each person having their own personal, small 1-2 person kit kept on them (like in a cargo pocket) at all times.

    • Medications - If you are on any type of medication, make sure to try and have a supply of them stocked in your B.O.B.
      • Trade items - A bunch of multi-vitamins can be useful for you, if the situation is long-term, and your not getting sufficient nutrition.  Or they can be used as a trade item, for supplies you need or lack.  Things like gold, and silver coins will keep their value long after paper money, and should be in your bag as well.  You can also keep precious metal jewelry you rarely wear.
      • Paper money - Depends on what you think will be safe, but I suggest no more then $1000.  The longer the bug-out, the more chance that paper money will lose value.  Here is a link to a post I wrote about cash.
      • Important documents - You will hopefully have your Passport, or license on you, but considering what this bag is used for, you may not.  In that case, the best possible option is to scan all important document (i.e. Passport, licenses, deeds, marriage certificates, etc.) and keep them on a portable thumb drive in your bag.  Make sure to encrypt the information for your own safety.

      • Survival books or Kindle - I suggest carrying a comprehensive survival guide in your B.O.B., and I recommend the SAS book below.  I've reviewed it for you here.  You can keep your chosen book inside of a one gallon Zip-lock bag to keep it safe from the elements.  Even the greatest so-called survival experts in the world won't always remember a method or technique.  Having a guide book on hand can help you with the stuff, you are not 100% on.  A plus to a book is that you can use it as tinder in an emergency.  You could also use a Kindle as a survival library.  It is light, easily transported, and you can have a bunch of survival related books pre-loaded on the device.  Obviously the flaws are that; it's susceptible to breaking/malfunctioning, and you need to have a sustainable way of recharging it (i.e. solar panel charger.)