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.
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
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.
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 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?”
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.