Basic Needs For Bug Out Bags and Urban Survival Back Packs
Update: Make sure and check out our What Prepping Supplies Do I need Series here. I goes through all the supplies you need from bug out bags to car kits as well as how to proceed after you have all of this done. Getting started prepping is one thing, knowing how to continue without getting overwhelmed is another.
Preparing For The Worst
Bug out bags and get home bags are essentially the same thing other than their size, you want supplies and you want to survive while you try to get where you are going. With the way things seem to be going in the world today, being prepared is more important than ever. Some may call it paranoia, others call it unnecessary planning, I call it being prepared and peace of mind.
Think about it, if something happens from a simple car accident in the middle of winter or an earthquake isn’t it better to have a sense of preparation rather than panic as most others will do because you had the foresight to plan ahead?
And let’s say the worst case scenario, doesn’t happen and life goes on as usual, it is still helpful to have an emergency bag with you at all times (like having car insurance) because you never know what can happen. Your car may get stuck, or severe weather may affect your area. What would happen if you didn’t have power for several days? If you have an emergency bag, you may be inconvenienced, but you will be ok as will your family members because you did the planning, and you were prepared.
You have heard it mentioned many times on television, seen it on the internet. Bug out bag, always have your B.O.B. ready. But what exactly are you suppose to put in your bug out bags?
A bug out bag or get home bag is any some sort of back pack that has supplies in it that will be needed in an emergency situation. It holds essential supplies that can be helpful in a disaster or emergency. Even FEMA and state websites encourage individuals to plan and be prepared for any disaster. There are many tools available to help you prepare, and give their recommendations of what you should put in your bug out bag.
This isn’t easy planning, and can seem overwhelming. And if it is not handled in the correct way, can alienate your family and friends. Every member of your household should have a bug out bag. I try to make my planning fun, and include my family in my survival planning. I have a bug out bag created for each family member, as well as having one in each car, and two extras, just in case.
It is better to be over prepared than to have a wait and see attitude. My children are a little apprehensive at times but that is because all teenagers think they are invincible.
You can create bug out bags out of anything that you can pack. I have chosen large backpacks that I have salvaged from yard sales and thrift stores, but my favorite is the Molle Assault Pack I also have taken bags I purchased on clearance from different stores that are pretty handy because they have wheels, so you can drag them like a fancy suitcase, and the carrying handles can also work for shoulder straps, like a backpack. The more pockets they have the better.
It is important to understand the meaning of a bug out bag, it is meant for an emergency. This means it should be easily accessible, and easy to carry. Sturdy construction is a definite bonus, but any bug out bag is better than no bug out bag or get home bag. I recommend starting small, and build up when you can. It isn’t hard, and it is fun and gets easier as you prepare and practice more.
My intention is not to overwhelm you, but to help you get a head start on being prepared. Just take it one step, or one item at a time. Feel free to add items that are important to you, or are better suited for your area.
How Do I Prepare For A Disaster?
What comes next is a breakdown of the items you need, and why they are important.
You can’t get very far without water, which is why it makes the top of my list. However, water can be heavy. So each pack has a two liter soda bottle that has been washed, and a drop of chlorine bleach added to it. It doesn’t add too much weight, and two liters of water per pack is enough to get you through until you find a source for water.
However, you need to keep in mind that if you actually need to use your water, use it sparingly. By having some water, some of the pressure is taken from you in an emergency, one less thing to worry about. If you find that you need to use your water out of your emergency pack make sure you replace it as soon as you have the opportunity.
Also, keep in mind depending on the time of year, or your location your water may be at risk for freezing, which could get your other items wet.
With that being said, you need to remember that if you find yourself in a situation where water is limited, you will need to find a water source. The human body needs two quarts of water a day to work efficiently and correctly.
If you are in a survival situation you will be exerting yourself, and water is crucial to survival. That means you will need to drink more than the bare minimum in order to keep yourself functioning properly. If you use more water than you take in you take in, you are setting yourself up to become dehydrated.
Finding a spot to set up your shelter would be best if you are close to a water source. Lakes and streams are a great source of water, however there is the potential for contaminants in the water as well, so you will need to be able to purify the water once you have found it.
So now that you know why you need to have a water source, lets help you figure out how to find it. Animals always know where water is, so that is an option. If you can’t find any animals to follow around, you can always try the vegetation. Vegetation will tend to grow more abundantly near a water source. If you are in the middle of winter, hopefully there will be ice, which can be used as water. But if you are in the middle of summer, you can still find the water, just look for the greenest areas.
This may be even easier if you find yourself in a city environment. Swimming pools, hot tubs, homemade waterfalls and even hot water heaters are sources of water. If you are unsure of the water source, as you always should be. You will need to purify the water before it is safe for consumption.
There are many different ways to purify water. The best way if you have the utensils, and you should in your bug out bag, is to boil the water for at least ten minutes to kill all of the bacteria that could be in the water. You can use a plastic bottle strung up over a fire to boil the water if you do not have a pot to do it, but it will take longer.
There are also many water filtration kits, as well as water purification kits that can be purchased either online, or in stores. I do have a water purification container in my bag as a precaution. There is a difference between water filtration and water purification. Water filtration does get rid of bacteria, but water purification gets rid of viruses as well.
You can also purchase water purification tablets, which I have included in my bag. The tablets are small, lightweight and inexpensive. With water purification tablets there are multiple choices, I prefer the chlorine tablets to iodine. Many people are allergic to iodine, and I would hate to find that I am if it came to a point where I needed to use my bug out bag.
Most importantly please remember do not drink any water because you think it is safe, always, always, always purify your water if you find yourself in a survival situation.
When planning the type of food that you will put into your pack, think lightweight and calorie dense. Calories are very important in a stressful situation. You may find yourself doing a lot of physical work, and you will need calories in order to keep your strength.
Calorie dense foods are the best way to do this. Most survival or backpacking foods are just this. That does not give you free rein to eat ten thousand calories a day, use common sense. Each person’s calorie requirement will be different, but a good rule of thumb is about twenty-eight hundred calories a day for an average adult female who is exercising, about thirty-two hundred if you are a strapping young lad doing moderate physical labor.
Now if you don’t have this many calories per day in your meal planning, the minimum amount of calories to keep all of your body organs functioning properly, minimum mind you, is twelve hundred calories. So if you are trying to ration your caloric intake, a bare minimum of twelve hundred is needed on a daily basis. You will however be losing weight, because you will be burning many more calories than you are taking in.
Three days’ worth of food for one person is an essential item that needs to be in your bag. I personally like mountain house products. They are readily available on the internet, as well as in some stores. If you prefer, you can use MRE’S, or a combination of both. They all taste good!
They are also prepared for single use and also have larger packets available. They are extremely lightweight. They don’t take up much space, and the shelf life is typically two years making it a cost effective addition to the pack. The only downside to these types of meals is they do require water. One cup of boiling water is needed for each packet.
When you are considering your three days’ worth of food, keep in mind your personal preferences and how much you eat. Your idea of a meal and mine might be completely different. By having things you like to eat and that you know how to prepare will help to keep you in the frame of mind of one who prepares. If you don’t eat eggs, then don’t go buy five breakfasts that all include eggs.
If you can, buy a few extra packets and try them out, find your favorites before you commit to putting them in your pack.
And remember this is a guideline. If you feel better having four days’ worth of food, then do it. Remember, this is your pack, and you need to put in it what works best for you, and will provide the best comfort and peace of mind for you and your family.
Granola bars, and pieces of hard candy are great for extra energy, and something sweet to provide a small distraction. Sugar can do wonders for raising spirits in a bad situation. Chocolate is nice, but if you are packing chocolate bars, they melt. When they melt, they’re messy. Keep that in mind if you pack some. Let me give you an example of the food I have in my own personal pack and how I plan on using it whether I am bugging in or bugging out.
Day 1 Bug Out Supply Utilization
- Freeze dried bacon and eggs (320 calories)
- Starbucks coffee viva with cream and sugar (90 calories) I like Starbucks, but use what you want.
- Mainstay Food Ration Bar (400 calories)
- You will need one liter a day so ration your water appropriately.
- Freeze dried Chicken Teriyaki (320 calories)
- Crystal light (Single pack, 20 oz of water)
- Granola Bar (100 calories)
- Canned Ravioli 1 can (500 calories)
- Fruit Cocktail ½ can (180 calories)
- Water Again, you will need on liter of water a day while you are out traveling.
- 1 packet Hot Cocoa (110 calories)
- Mainstay Food Ration Bar (400 calories)
Daily Food Rations:
- Total Caloric Intake: 2420 Calories for the day
- Total H2O intake: 1 liter of water
How Should You Pack For Short Term Survival?
Now this is just an example. Here is another example about how to build a urban survival bag from discovery.com to get some ideas. You do not have to use what I do, but I think it is a good way for you to see how many calories are in the food. And even though the freeze dried food is tasty, it can be expensive if you are outfitting a family.
It is also easy to cook canned food, just vent the top with a can opener. I don’t have a lot of canned food, because it is heavy in a pack, but it does give a nice change of pace from all freeze dried meals. Also, even though this day of food is almost twenty-five hundred calories, I would find it difficult to finish all of this food in one day.
However, hiking or traveling in the elements can take a lot out of you and it is nice to know in my survival pack I have over ten thousand calories in case I need them, as does each member of my family.
The main goal of the food is for nutrition, and packing a punch in the calorie department. Also by adding some comfort foods, such as hot cocoa, it helps to keep a very stressful situation a bit more bearable for you and your family. By thinking ahead, planning and keeping a clear mind, you will be ahead of any dangerous situation that presents itself, leaving you time to figure out what the next step will be.
Fire Starting Methods And Gear
So far we have covered food and water, and in order for us to be able to use food and water, it is important to have the equipment in order to create a fire. There is something calming about a fire burning in a fire pit. Maybe it is reminiscent of camping, or the family gathering together. Whatever the reason, it is a vital necessity in an emergency situation.
Having multiple ways to start a fire is important, I suggest at least 3. I love the magnesium stick as one alternative Knowing how to start a fire, and keeping it going is even more important.
A fire is essential for survival, it is needed for boiling water, cooking food, and keeping warm. It is important also to remember having a fire could alert other to your location, so keep this in mind when creating a fire. You will also need to keep in mind fire safety and try to remain invisible as possible.
The items you should plan to have in your pack are regular matches, waterproof matches (in a waterproof container) a knife, striking flint, 2 regular lighters, an extra-long lighter, dryer lint in a zip lock baggie, nine volt battery and steel wool.
You might be thinking, dryer lint? Yes, dryer lint. But let’s discuss the most obvious items. Lighters are always useful. Each pack should have an assortment of lighters. They are inexpensive and lightweight. They make starting a fire very simple, you have fire contained in simple instrument. And to be realistic, the more simple things can be the better. You do not need to be exerting yourself on projects that you don’t need too.
Regular matches, and waterproof matches in a waterproof container are helpful as well. It may seem like overkill, but the more sources you have in order to create fire, the better off you will be. Always try to imagine yourself in different survival situations and brainstorm what you might need or use. Save the waterproof matches for just in case you come into a situation when your lighters and your regular matches get wet or just will not work.
It may sound odd to consider a nine-volt battery and steel wool objects that can produce fire, but they can. And it doesn’t have to be a nine-volt battery, any battery will do, however the positive and negative terminals are close on a nine-volt making it easier to spark the fire.
Take fine steel wool and stretch it out into a thin cord. Lay the battery down flat, and take the steel wool and touch the strip along the battery terminals, and you will have fire. The fire does not burn for very long, so make sure you have your tinder ready to go under the steel wool. Fire loves oxygen, so blow on it and you will have created fire. (Just make sure to remove the battery after the fire has started.)
So now you have multiple tools with which you can create fire which is half the battle. The other half, is keeping that fire going. Building a fire isn’t that difficult and practice makes perfect. The more you practice making fire the easier it will get. I highly recommend you learn now, learning while you are on the run or “bugging out” is less than an ideal classroom.
Is That All I Need To Take With Me?
Not by any means! I go into more detail in the next post about the Bug Out Bags Supplies Part 2 And Get Home Bags. Make sure you head over there and have a look at what the other survival supplies you should take along with you.