Top BOB Essentials That Might Get You Killed

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Bug out bag essentials you might not need.
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Editor’s Note: This is another post that has been generously contributed by Mike Turner and is the first entry in the Prepper Journal’s new Prepper Writing Contest. Mike discusses some common BOB Essentials that we see on lists all of the time that may not be the best for your Bug Out Bag. What items do you think are worthless?


 

I have been working on my BOB for about four years now. I have had over a dozen different load outs, plans and systems and over this time I have found a few things that are always coming up when I run through the contents. It weights too much, Do I need this?, Can I get by without this or would I die without it?

Here are some hints and tips from my personal experience that might just help you out or spark some new ideas and trains of thought.

Matches

Many people believe in the rule of one is none and two is one. I too myself believe in this rule, just not for BOBs in every case. Many people stock matches at home, which is wise. However in a bug out situation, the lighter and longer lasting option is best. Two Bic lighters can weigh less than a reasonably sized box of matches and of course they will last much longer.

Survival Gear that uses different size batteries

Tech is always helpful in a survival situation, but not if the batteries are all different and packing spares ends up leaving you with a lot of bulk in your kit. You can use foil to make smaller batteries fit gear that uses a larger battery type which will save you weight if you need to. If you depend on a wide range of batteries to power your gear you are asking for trouble. A safe rule of thumb is to buy kit that will take a battery a size or two bigger than the smallest.

Plates, pans,knives and forks

Leave the pots and pans at home.

Many people carry collapsible bowls, cups, even pans in their BOB. At the end of the day, it is simply not worth it. Get yourself a fairly decent stove with a pot and pan lid system. This gives you everything you need in a light weight compact form. As for knives, forks and spoons, your environment provides everything you need to make these tools. That said a spork would serve all of your needs if so inclined to stick with utensils. I personally use a small wooden spoon in my BOB. The reasoning behind this is that it is light weight, made of good wood for tinder shaving if need be and won’t scratch the Teflon pan coating of my gear.

Several preppers also carry cutting boards, the reasoning is sound. However, again these things can be scavenged and made in your environment. By cutting these things we have one less thing to carry, wash and maintain.

Energy Bars and Drinks

Athletes, body builders and general sporting men and women use these on a regular or even daily basis. So, what could be wrong with stocking them in your BOB? Well, did you buy the right kind for your needs? Energy and protein right? Think again. Energy bars and drinks have a startling variety of contents and nutritional values. Many, like Cliff bars and Marathon Energy bars contain a large amount of protein (10 – 18 grams or so. Different bars of course will vary) and a few hundred calories. These standard bars will supply you with what you need. However are lacking in nutritional value. Other bars will supply you with these nutrients, that said you can cause yourself harm with overloading your system. This can lead to becoming sick and suffering from such illnesses as diarrhea.

Zippo Lighters

The fuel Zippo lighters use can evaporate out of the lighter, the wick can burn out and the flint wear down. If you are going to have one of these as part of your kit then you should invest in additional flints, wicks and fluid. Also, picking the right lighter can make all the difference. A good seal around the fuel well can help to stop or slow the rate of evaporation.

Survival Guides

Survival guides should make up a large part of the preppers library, either in digital or paper form. So what could be wrong with having a survival guide in your BOB. In theory, absolutely nothing, these guides can be a vital part of surviving and an invaluable source of information. The problem that does arise however is “Does it suit my environment and needs?”

Plan on cutting wood? Those wire saws will not do the work of this sturdier folding saw.

For people who live in the outback or a mild to tropical climate will get a lot more use from more survival guides than those of us who live in urban environments or places that does not have such a diverse range of wild edibles and wildlife to hunt and trap. There are many cases of experienced hikers and survivalists who poison themselves or even die because they have depended on their guides when identifying edibles. The way to solve this issue is to take what you need from each guide and compile your own specific to your own bug out route and location. I myself for example live in Japan. Many of the guides I own do not cover many of the food sources that I have in my surrounding environment that are safe to eat. More importantly the ones that are not. Take the time to research what is more relevant to you and compile your own guidebook of information based on your needs.

The Wire Saw

A useful tool, but nothing compared to a folding saw. They have their uses and advantages, size and weight. However, in regards to cutting power, energy and calories used would not make it a dependable choice. The connectors for the handles are also usually not strong enough for prolonged use.

Water Purification Systems

How can a water filtration system possibly get you into a bad situation or worse? The answer to this question is simple. What do you do if it breaks, gets damaged or wears out? Without a means or the knowledge of how to maintain and repair your filter it could just become dead weight. Before use you should read the manual and check the websites for common issues and how to solve them. Some filters may also come with additional kits that you can buy to service them and replace parts after long periods of use.

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Super Steve
Super Steve
4 years ago

lighter wise I wont not have a Zippo thrown at me, I had one once, filled it up and put in my my cargo pockets, two hours later my leg felt irritable, rapidly becoming sore so I dropped my pants and looked at my leg, the lighter petrol had leaked from the Zippo and caused a chemical burn on my leg that required a medical dressing for 10 days. As the author says Bic lighters are better and more reliable, But I went further and got a Blazer PB207 pocket butane lighter / torch its vastly superior to Zippos and… Read more »

Pat Henry
4 years ago
Reply to  Super Steve

That happened to me before Steve, but not to that degree when I smoked in the Army. If I would fill the zippo up too much it would leak. If I went easy on the fluid I didn’t have any problems, but I do think Bic types are better for your bug out bag.

James M
James M
4 years ago
Reply to  Super Steve

I’ve been using zippos for awhile now. Never had a real Zippo leak, yet every cheapo did. Now. How are you going to refuel your torch? A Zippo can run off a multitude of different fuels. Bic runs out what then? Bic Flints fit in a Zippo. Wick burns out? Take a common copper wire, strip, separate and braid with a cotton ball pulled apart. Torches are nice, bids are better, but end of the world + a year my Zippo will still be burning. And you guys will be using a lot tougher ways to start fires.

ashlabs
ashlabs
4 years ago

In the USAF Water then Shelter came first. Back in 1994 collapsible bowls, etc were first introduced with mixed results. Take that with SERE school and we were mostly on board, ten years later I still made sure I had a stainless steel can for water and cooking but also had my collapsible pale to clean everything up before finding camp. It is hard to trust something new when so many old things work so well.

michael s
michael s
4 years ago

Batteries, with a few exceptions should AA or AAA. The exceptions being, computer motherboard, wrist watch and smoke alarm. Everything else is AA or AAA. Those are rechargeable. Use a solar recharger. If you are in the bush, you’re not lugging around a desk top. Your nose is the smoke alarm. You can still find mechanical or self winding watches. The watches aren’t satellite accurate, but, you’re in the bush. Starting a fire is easy, when the conditions are right. I think I have 4 ways to start a fire. Depending on your location and your current situation, you probably… Read more »

donnie
donnie
4 years ago

I like the article as I too have had several BOB’s and the weight issue has always plagued me. I would suggest taking this one step further, that is…actually test your BOB, put yourself through a drill, take a day or two and actually use it. Assume a reasonable scenario and get out there with it. Give yourself a goal, maybe travel from point A to B and rely on your BOB, you will soon find its deficiencies. This will allow you the experience of a test while rooting out its short comings.

Bolofia
Bolofia
4 years ago
Reply to  donnie

Amen. If you don’t test it, your BOB is just a theory. Taken one step farther, test it under different weather conditions and seasons. My next 4-day tactical outing comes up in 5 days. Can’t wait to get out there…

donnie
donnie
4 years ago

There are two items that I use that have a severe weakness, I am pointing this out because chances are you too have this weakness….LED flashlight and a digital watch (I have the Casio Pro Trek), both of these are susceptible to EMP. The LED flashlight uses a 18650 battery with a built in chip set, the watch of course is a great watch as it is solar powered but also has electronics in it. The advantages of an LED flashlight are many as we all know but what are you going to do if your away from home when… Read more »

Central Europen Citizen
Central Europen Citizen
4 years ago
Reply to  donnie

Good point! This issue still bothers me even after some expert recommended me a Faraday bag what was primary designed to hold a cellphone to suppress GSM signal to avoid eavesdropping. It looks like a ESD bag but its construction the layers are different, so do not mix with that.

Regarding the wristwatch a good old automatic Doxa, or a cheap Citizen 2300, Orient Mako will do the job very well regardless the magnitude of the EMP.

BigGaySteve
BigGaySteve
4 years ago
Reply to  donnie

If you are close enough to a nuke for an led light to go you have other problems. One lighting solution is to use UVPAQLITE. It is made of crystals that glow in the dark. The 10 man tent size makes for a permanent night light if put in a window. https://www.uvpaqlite.com/

Bolofia
Bolofia
4 years ago

You have provided some keen insights, as well as the comments already included by other readers. Regarding protein/energy bars, I am kind of partial to the Mainstay Energy Food Rations because they have a long shelf life, exceed RDA requirements, and are high in protein. The only drawback (if you can call it that) is they only come in one flavor. However, they are a great supplement and don’t require cooking. If necessary, you can eat on the go.

"Surpentine" Mike
"Surpentine" Mike
4 years ago

I’ll tell you one thing that you can NEVER have too many of in your BOB; Serpentine belts! I kid you not. I’m loaded to the gills with every type of serpentine belt imaginable. You never know when that damn belt will snap and you’ll be crap outta luck. Who needs water, fire or food when you have serpentine belts!!

Kristin Mcgeehan
Kristin Mcgeehan
4 years ago

Most of these items (the “good” ones, not the ones that will “kill” you) are already in my BOB. Some of my backups are the “killers” tho. The local area field guide is a great idea. I don’t need a 300 page book where most of the items are found out west or in some other climate I’m not in.

donnie
donnie
4 years ago

I could be wrong but I was under the impression that a nuke could be exploded 300 miles above us in the central part of the U.S. and the resulting EMP pulse would render most unprotected electronic devices across most of the U.S. Inoperative. This is what I was referring to in my original post. I apologize as I may have not made that clear. The EMP would not harm humans at that altitude but effectively put us back into the 19th century with regards to electronic functionality. What say you?

BigGaySteve
BigGaySteve
4 years ago
Reply to  donnie

Its complicated but it would take out the big things on the coasts the US because of the miles of power lines, acting like antennas shorting out things connected to the grid. There are different radiuses for how things are affected. Smaller shorter circuits will be more resilient. LEDS powered by batteries would be very resilient especially if they are not on when it happens. Survivalblog has covered EMPs several times. If you want a lifetime of dim light after any EMP you can survive buy the 10 man tent version of the UVPAQLITE, basically a large high quality glow… Read more »

Steve
Steve
4 years ago
Reply to  donnie

Donnie, the EMP Commission tested a number of autos, computers, etc., and published the results. http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf
It appears that many electronic devices, turned off and disconnected from AC power, would survive.