Many people have different names for this bag as well as different reasons for having one. Some like to call it a 72hour bag well others like to call it a bug out bag. For all tense and purposes it is a bag that will help aid in you surviving an emergency, natural disaster or will help you survive well you travel to another safe location. Everybody has different thoughts on what should go in this bag. From those that want everything and anything including the kitchen sink to those that choose to travel much lighter. I am not going to demean anybody for what they choose to carry in there bag. I am just going to give you a starting point. I will delve into this subject much further another time and I will also give you a glimpse into my emergency bag. This is just a basis for getting a bag started.
The very first thing you are going to need is a bag, but what bag should you get? Well it depends a lot on you. Can you handle a lot of weight? Are you going to carry a lot of gear? Is your goal to keep your bag as light as possible? Are you planning on using your bag in the wilderness or for short term emergencies? These are all questions that you will have to answer for yourself. I personally use a Rothco medium transport bag. I like this bag because it is very durable and has a lot of broken up compartments. By having a lot of compartments instead of one big open bag you are able to separate things and know where each thing is instead of having to unload your bag every time you want or need something. I also like this bag because it is a medium size bag. So even if I fill the bag it will not be way too heavy to carry a long distance. For people that are not able to carry a lot of weight on their back, I recommend scaling down the amount of gear you pack and use lighter weight packs made out of ripstop nylon. These bags are not as durable as heavier weight bags but you’ll have to make some calculated compromises to overcome different disabilities. I use ripstop nylon bags all the time for lightweight backpacking and they work great. The last thing I will say about bags for now is to stay away from camouflage. Get a bag that is one solid color. You don’t want to stand out in a crowd as one that is prepared or may be militarily trained. People that are starving may come searching for your food and supplies. People that are starving are willing to do whatever it takes to fill their hunger.
The next thing I recommend, is finding yourself a good quality knife. You want something that is full tang. Don’t buy a knife that has a hollow handle. Knives like these are very weak and often break right near the handle. Look around online and read reviews. There are a lot of quality knives out there. I carry a green Gerber LMF II. I love this knife and haven’t been able to find one that I like better. Mora, Condor, Blind Horse Knives, Esee, Kabar and Gerber are just a few companies that make some good knives. There are many other good quality knife makers out there so search around. You will also want a way to sharpen your knife so remember to get some sort of sharpening implement to keep with your knife or in your bag.
The next thing I recommend is a good survival kit. The one that is available at my store is the same one that I carry in my bag. It is called the Ultimate Survival Kit. Here is the link: http://armstrongsurvivalgear.com/ultimate-survival-kit/
This Survival Kit contains: an orange emergency blanket, a StarFlash mirror, a Pocket Chainsaw, a “pico” style light, 12 Industrial Revolution Stormproof Matches, a 4seasons Spark Lite with 10 Tinder-Quik fire starters, a Jetscream whistle, one of our Survival Pods (20feet of 20lb test fishing line, 2 hooks, 2 swivels and 2 weights), a pin on compass, a Gerber mini paraframe pocket knife, a Frontier Filter (water filter straw) and its all contained in an Otterbox 3000. There’s even room to fit your favorite bag of tea and a small piece of hard candy or stick of gum. This whole kit weighs less than 1.5 lbs. This kit takes care of a lot of things you would be putting into your bag anyways but now it’s all contained in a strong container that will float.
The next thing you will want to add is some sort of shelter. To save weight I use a lightweight tarp made out of silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, a piece of Tyvek for the ground cloth, titanium stakes and some 550 para cord. By using this type of shelter instead of a tent you’ll save yourself a lot of weight in your emergency bag. Another option is a hammock incorporated with a lightweight tarp. This is also a light option as well as very comfortable.
Now you want to begin to think about adding some food to your bag. Some people recommend having enough food to last 72 hours and others believe you should have more food. This all depends on your plans, your intentions for this bag, your physical needs and abilities and the types of disasters you are planning for. I can only tell you what I do. This is by no means what you have to follow strictly. I carry a 3600 calorie Mainstay food bar to use in the initial stages of an emergency. If an emergency happens you probably won’t have time to stop and cook or heat something up. This gives you 1 ½ days worth of calories that can be eaten on the go. I also have 5 days worth of Mountain House meals. That’s 15 meals all together, breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 days. These meals are easy to prepare. Just heat up water and add to the package and allow the food to get warm. This makes for easy preparation and cleanup. I also have a bag of jerky and some tea bags as well. This way I have enough food for a week no problem without ever needing to hunt or forage. The food could also be rationed to last much longer than a week.
The last thing we will look at today is hydration. You will want some water in your bag but you will also want a way to purify water as well. If you have our Ultimate Survival Kit you will already have two ways to purify water. Using the frontier filter straw or fire to purify any water collected. I also carry an Aquamira Filter Bottle. This way I can just fill it up quick and be on my way. I also have a stainless steel cup and lid for heating up water for meals or for purification if I lose the filter bottle. I place a few bottles of water in my bag so that I have quick access to water for the first stage of an emergency.
That is where I must end for today. I hope that it was helpful and that it helps you get started putting an emergency bag, 72 hour bag or bug out bag together. Tomorrow I will give you some more ideas about what should go into your emergency bag. You don’t need to follow what I do exactly or use the brands that I use. These are just examples to help get you thinking about being better prepared for natural disasters or emergencies. Again everything is customizable to your needs and abilities. One more thing that I will leave you with; no tool or amount of gear can ever replace any survival or bushcraft skills or knowledge you may have. Well you are able to, learn and gain as many skills as you possibly can. Learn primitive ways of starting fires, making tools and making shelters. Learn how to use what’s already available in the wilderness. This will help make you less reliant on gear that might break or wear out. Do you have an emergency bag of some sort? If not, do you plan on putting one together?