Pick your poison, be it solar flare, hurricane, nuclear melt-down, zombies or whatever, you may have to bug-out to stay one step above it. If you do have to get on the move, precious hours or minutes can be lost in packing for what lies down the road. This time could mean the difference between getting away from the danger in time, and having to shelter in place and wait it out, hoping for the best. Being pre-packed and ready to go can help buy you that extra time. This means having a BOB.
What is a BOB?
A BOB is a Bug out Bag, in short a self-contained emergency survival kit to help get you down the road and keep you OK for a few days. The term originally came from the 'bail out bags' that 1940s pilots would carry with them in the event of having to ditch unexpectedly, but has evolved into the modern BOB.
There is a lot of goofy thought out there on bug out bags. As a rapidly deployable federal contractor, law enforcement trainer, and hurricane Katrina survivor, let me share my input if I may on what a good BOB is.
Typical BOB contents
Your BOB should enable you to survive for a minimum of 3 days and nights (72hours) before resupply. This amount of time is the crucial gap before you can expect to reach safety, or safety to reach you.
There are several schools of thought on how to pack a bug out bag. Many people fall into the trap of packing everything they (it) want rather than what they (it) need. This leaves you with a 120-pound rucksack that a Marine Force Recon operator would balk at.
- This is not a realistic Bug Out Bag...
First, bring enough bag. I personally like the 3-day pack design currently used by the military and available from such suppliers as US Cavalry and Tactical Taylor. If you shop around you can get these for anywhere from $50-$100 and they are worth every penny. It is actually too large for what I need, which is good as the spare room allows for flexibility and extra last minute items. Try to select neutral colors such as tan, black or olive rather than hi-vis (in case you have to stash it temporarily) or camouflage (in case you need to blend into a crowd.)
The most important items are food and water. Water is heavy (about 8 lbs per gallon) but you are going to need at least a liter (about 33 ounces) to keep hydrated per day, per person. For 72-hours, you are looking at 99 ounces or about 3/4 of a gallon at a bare bones minimum just for drinking. A good start is to carry a Camelbak style hydration system and top it off every chance you get. Spare water can be in the form of a plastic wrapped case of bottled water in your trunk. Should you have to ditch your car, top off your Camelbak and take as many of these bottles as you can (here is where the spare room in your 3-day pack comes in at.)
- Camelbak sells a series of packs that have built in hydration. They are a little pricey but can carry 100oz of water and 1000cu in of cargo in a subtle pack that can pass as a large laptop bag.
You can survive up to 20 days or more without eating, but you need to keep up your strength and energy and that means food. For food, MREs are good but they are heavy and take up a lot of space. A good compact alternative is survival tabs , which are neutral protein wafers. About a dozen will get you through the day. Double packed in good quality zip lock bags, a 3-day supply of these wafers is the size of a sandwich and weighs less than a pound. Add to this a few granola bars and some hard candy and you are good to go. A small jar of peanut butter can also augment your larder, but be careful and remember need over want here.
Add to this your basic paperback book-sized trauma kit. You may have multiple needs and uses for it in a disaster situation. Pre-pack at least a few days any personal medications as well as spare eyeglasses and/or contacts. Be sure this kit contains some sort of eye protection, a decent facemask, and an emergency poncho in the event of particulate in the air (such as during 9/11), ash, pandemic, and other unforeseen events.
Dress in layers and try not to fill your BOB with clothes. A few extra pair of socks, under ware, and a large hand towel can get you through 72 hours. Also, pack a large heavy-mil trash bag, big enough to place your BOB inside in the event of fallout, floods, chemical release, or torrential downpours.
Another BOB essential is cash. Banks/ATMs may be off line after a disaster. A small amount of cash, at least $100 in small bills ($5's and $10s) can be all-important to get you a tank of gas or the last few bottles of fresh water in a roadside service station along the evacuation route.
- My personal and subtle BOB, always loaded and ready to go. Three days socks/whites/spare Tshirt/handtowel in top corner, trauma kit inside waterproof toilet kit bag, hydration bladder that fits inside bag and feeds through a purpose-made slot, a pair of LED flashlites (that can also double as impact weapons), S&W M&P with spare mag (spare loose rounds and $100 in small bills also secured with clothes) survival tabs in waterproof camera bag, PB comfort food, USB drive with a back up of my life on it. All fits in bag with room to spare. 72hrs of support. About $200 (not counting the Smith), weighing under 30 pounds including water.
Most of us have our entire lives on our personal computers. Documents, pictures, financial records, family videos. Buy the biggest flash drive you can find and every few months back these up onto it. Store it in a sealed bag inside a secure pocket of your BOB. This takes up little space and weight but is extremely important. If you come back home to nothing, as many have after wild fires, tornado and hurricanes, or can never go back such as after a radiologic disaster, you will be glad you did.
Finally, but most important, is your choice of firearm. While your first though may be to have your BOB be a folding stock AR or AK type platform, you may need to pump the breaks and think this out. You may have to abandon your vehicle and walk out at some point. You may be forced into a shelter or reunification center. A good reliable side arm, with a high magazine capacity and a concealment holster may be a better and more survivable alternative. For this firearm, you will want a supply of extra ammunition. These rounds should not be carried in a box inside your BOB but rather loose inside a knotted sock stored with other socks. If you have to submit it to a visual inspection while passing through a control point, the last thing you want to do is unzip your bag and have a box of 357GAP sitting on top.
I hope that you and BOB will never have to hit the road, but get to know him, just in case.