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.)



        Anonymous said...

        Good list. I recommend the iGo AA-battery powered charger for recharging phone, mp3 player, ereader, etc. The solio solar chargers use the same power tips as the iGo system so you'll only need one tip per device to be charged.
        Kindles are OK, but the Sony ereaders (preferably the 505 or 650) has more file options, you are not tied to Amazon, and you can use external memory cards. I have carried a 505 in my pants cargo pocket for three years and haven't broken it yet. If you use a Kingston micro SD reader and micro SD cards, then your electronic file storage takes up less space, and the microSD can be put into some mp3 players, phones, and Sony readers (using an SD card adapter).
        I carry and use all of these items in my EDC/GHB bag.

        JV said...

        Thanks! Great advice! I will definitely check into the chargers, and Sony eReader. Your suggestion of using a micro SD card is spot on, and a great idea. I am going to look into putting my files on that, as well as the thumb drive, because SD cards take up so little space. I will have to look into security issues though.