The Gear Site for Survivalists

3 Things Every Bug Out Bag Needs

One “survival myth” that needs to be addressed and eliminated is the equation that web gear along with an assault pack constitute an “Emergency 72 Hour Kit” or if you have a large camping back pack then you are good for 7 days, add a large duffel bag and you can survive out to 14 days.

By Regulator5, a contributor

This equation, for lack of a better word, was developed on the military logistical model and incorporates resupply in the formula.  If a true disaster or emergency happens; resupply maybe a pipe dream.  You need to look at the contents of your bag and figure out which survival items are perpetual and which are temporary.  A backpacking meal is temporary….a fishing kit is perpetual.  Both of these items are important to have in your kit but if you feel there is little chance of resupply in a SHTF event, then error on the side of carrying more perpetual survival gear.  Here are 3 items that are not typically found in Bug Out Bags but I see them as extremely vital to reduce weight and yet keep you prepared to meet many obstacles that you will face in a disaster.

The e-Tool

The E-tool (entrenching tool) or a digging tool.  I wouldn’t leave home without one if possible. I e toolprefer the Russian Spetsnaz e-tool over the American trifold version, but that is a personal preference.  The Spetsnaz has a square blade and straight wooden handle which gives it better ability as a weapon if the need arises.  Normally one edge is sharpened and can be used as a make shift axe to chop wood for a fire, make a spear, or built a shelter.  The E-tool can serve as a weapon and it can help secure food by digging roots, insects or bait for a fishing hook.  The E-Tool can be used as a medium usage pry bar, hatchet, machete, and serves to further your personal hygiene in two ways:  1) you keep insects and the stench down, 2) if hiding, you do not want to leave any tell all sign that someone inhabits the area.  Anyone who has a hunting background knows to watch for scat to locate prey and track their habits.

The Poncho

Military poncho(s) or Civilian Poncho.  I use this for my shelter as well as weather gear and a military ponchosurvival tool.  I can create a few different shelters with a poncho and by adding natural vegetation; it becomes a more acceptable inclement weather shelter.  I personally carry 2 ponchos, as they are extremely light weight and very useful.  A single poncho can be used to form a good “lean to”, while 2 ponchos can make a tent.  I also use one as a “lean to” and the second as a ground cloth.  The versatility and combination of uses are only hindered by your imagination. They fit well in most pockets or pouches and even fit in a triple mag pouch for the AR15 if folded or rolled tight. Again, 1 item, several uses, from weather protection, shelter, rain collector, bivvy sack, wind deflector (cooking) and improvised stretcher.


Nets.  I carry the Frabill nets personally, but there are several options for these. They become a fishing with a nethammock to sleep off the ground in a swamp or marsh, or even in snake infested areas. The nets are a superb fishing tool but can also be used to trap small animals in an emergency.  For fishing, you can attach improvised weights and by attaching 550 cord, you have a small casting net or you can employ them across a stream or creek and “drive” the fish into the net.   If you must camp in or near a swamp or any wetland, a hammock will save precious time and even more importantly energy than constructing a sleeping platform. This will allow you to get much needed sleep and be able to keep you and your gear dry. You can also use the net to form an improvised “bear bag”, thus keeping food out of reach of scavengers or gear in an innocuous cache which will require less time to prepare and retrieve than burying it if the need arises to stash your main ruck and move quickly but not completely abandon everything “willingly”.  Remember, most people, unless threatened or trained, do not look up as much as they look to the sides, forward or down (where they may discover the disturbed earth where you dug the pit to cache your goods).  Nets can also be used to improvise a backpack or carry-all. They are actually very useful in a maritime environment where the items you scavenge or food you gather is wet and will soak your normal pack. You can pre-make 550 cord loops that a carabineer can be clipped to and then attached to your vest, H-harness, or a ALICE pack frame.  They can also be used for camouflage and the making of a ghillie suit. Another single object, with multiple functions, and weighs less than 1 pound.


I can carry everything I need for my Bug Out Bag on my MOLLE vest and by adding a small backpack, can greatly enhance my abilities and capabilities depending on the situation.  My true fast exit is just my MOLLE vest and that will get me to the rest of my gear.  I also have children (4 ages 3-18), so setting up a BOB for them, weight is an even a greater consideration, without giving up the necessary gear they will need.  Forget creature comforts and stick with gear that works and will produce.  I suggest looking at your survival kit like a business investment and determine the ROI (Return On Investment) for anything and everything being carried.  Books, except the possible pocket field manual, games and other perks need to be pre-staged at your BOL (Bug Out Location), as they are extra weight, which burns energy, which reduces the chance of survival in a drawn out situation or crisis.  These are just a few things I feel are extremely important with their multiple uses and ROI.  I carry more than just this, but I ensure my kids have at least this much.  I have E-tools that are about 1/3 the normal size and even my 3 year old daughter can carry it easily.  They aren’t the sturdiest, but they have worked for small digging chores thus far during family outdoor excursions.

I am military, US Army Reserves, and have 2 years previous experience in SAR (Search and Rescue) as a civilian working with the USAF.  My gear reflects the combative arena of survival at most times because that is where my needs normally arise.  Even deployed, with the military logistical support in place, OIF 02/07-05/08, I carried Pemmican and Chia seeds as my survival food.  Chia seeds will provide all the nutrients a body needs for a day in a tablespoonful.  Some of the best warriors of guerrilla tactics, the Apache, utilized this light weight, nutritious staple for the war trail.  They will also help your body retain water and be absorbed slowly thus adding to your survival chances because of dehydration.  Pemmican (true Pemmican and not store bought jerky) is light weight, high in protein and will “keep” for years (some was found to be dated over 500 years old and still edible. It was stored in a rabbit stomach pouch) and  is “trail food”.  Trail food is what you can eat while moving… easily.  In the military, you are taught to eat your entrée first, then the sides and save the snacks or other foods that can be eaten while walking (M&Ms, Skittles, bread, crackers, combos, etc).  This will ensure you get some food in case of an attack or other reason for having to move out suddenly and thus saving food that you can eat while marching in case you need to recoup some of the calories you have burned.  The same should be thought of when packing your BOB and MOLLE.  Carry what you can eat while on the move on your vest and stow a couple primary meals in your pack.

The military load bearing system is set up in a “3 day (web gear), 5-7 day (rucksack), soup kitchenand 14 day (duffel bag/footlocker)” mentality; which seems to be how others seem to think of their packing from previous tours of duty or old military field manuals. This system is based and geared towards a normal and steady logistical system in place.  There was palpable panic at the base I was based out of in Iraq because supply lines were interrupted and all they had was a 3 day supply of MREs and was serving hot dogs for all meals in the DFAC (Dining Facility/chow hall).  In a true survival situation, you have no resupply being brought in; unless you are hunting, fishing, gardening, gathering or bartering for goods or trust in FEMA to “save you”.  I can live off my web gear, which the military views as a 3 day set up, for 2 weeks, providing I do not have a serious firefight to expend ammo (which is another topic).  I figure my rucksack will keep me going for a month.  My duffel/footlocker is my home or base camp position, which gives me everything I will have without bartering, hunting, fishing, growing or gathering, for the duration of my time.  I am NO expert, nor a complete survivalist, but feel some things are being made more difficult than they need to be.  This is just my humble opinion, but I have seen so many  in the “survival/preparedness” movement use the acronym K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid), then they have a list that looks like a family camping trip to the “wilds” of an amusement park.

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A Word in the Woods
Old Man Travels