More Tips For Your Bug Out Bag

If you read my post on 7 Tips For Your Bug Out Bag, considered this part II.  Many posts on Bug Out Bags out there in the INCH Bag Tipsblogosphere talk about specific items being better than others.  I prefer comparing ideas instead of whether a Mora is better than a Bushman for low budget survival, boy would that be a fun debate 🙂  Survival Gear is great, it makes life in the backcountry easier, but mindset and skills keep you alive.  So we try and find a happy balance like most aspects of living.  Much of this post will be review for you experienced types, but it never hurts to be reminded.  For you newly awakened survival minded Americans, welcome to the party.  I will try and not repeat too much from the last post, there will some cross-over and expanding of ideas.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

USA Berkey Filters

Sweat Happens

The biggest rookie mistake when hitting the trail is being over dressed.  You will heat up quickly, don’t be afraid to INCH Bag Tipsstop and shed a layer early on.  Too much sweat can cause problems fast, drenched clothes, dehydration and generally being uncomfortable in your clothing.  Choosing the right clothing it is your first defense against Mother Nature.  The old saying ‘Cotton Kills’ is pretty good advice.  I love my cotton clothes and wear them often when working or hiking, but they have no place in your survival kit.  It takes forever and a day to dry out.  One plus for cotton is hot and dry environments where it can shine, it just depends on where you are and time of year.  Now a 50/50 blend is not so bad.  Most BDU’s are this blend and they wear great and dry out fairly fast.  I have wool blends that are very comfy and so are the polyester base layers.  Do your homework before betting your life on any clothes.  I can’t say enough good things about BDU style clothing.  Ripstop durability, pockets, and there are some good non-camo ones out there if you are looking for a more Gray Man look. The debate of natural fiber and synthetic will not be solved here today.  Both have their pro’s and con’s.  I use both and my kit has both.  We should happy that we have so many choices. Last piece of advice, think about being able to layer when choosing your survival clothing.  I prefer loose clothing over tight fitting mostly for ease of movement and airflow.  The only tight fit should be your base layer.

Keeping a Clean Camp

Are you a clean freak?  Does everything have a place in your home?  If the answer is yes, then you have a good starting point.  If the answer is no, you need to get your mind in order.  This will be hard for some people, but bear with me.  When car camping you spread out and set up your outdoor home, some backpackers are guilty of this too.  In a survival/bug out situation this can lead to big problems.  Not only is it easier to lose track of essential gear, but if you need to move quickly any hesitation to grab stuff could mean dire consequences.  Use your gear when needed then put it away.

A clean camp also means hiding waste.  Even in tense, stressful times, the effort must be made to make it harder to track you.  Although these principles are recreational based, if you think tactically they make sense too.  Expanding on the tracking thing, next time you hit the trail, try to leave no tracks.  See if you can walk on hard surfaces, rocks in or close to the trail.  Then see if you move without making any noise.  These are skills that need to be practiced before they are needed.

Too Staff or Not To Staff

A hiking stick is more than a fun toy.  Choose the right one and you have a tent pole, doggy back-off stick, rifle Bug Out Bag Staffmonopod, snake stick, fishing pole, fighting Bo, spear…the list is only limited by your imagination.  When crossing a stream or log it can really steady the balancing act, especially when you have a pack on.  Trekking poles are used by more older hikers than younger ones, for good reason.  Using your arms to help climb a hill, when your knees have a lot of miles on them, just makes sense.  Anyone who has spent anytime with a heavy pack can attest to the fact that going downhill when tired can be tricky, poles can save you from a fall.

There are many tents out there that rely on trekking poles to reduce pack weight.  If you carry a poncho for your shelter, than a pole is very useful.  The only downside I can think of is if you are carrying a rifle, then a staff would be a problem, but there are collapsible ones too.  The picture shows one that has removable tops, from a smooth ball top to notched rifle rest, think of the possibilities.  Frog gigger, torch, or just maybe some decoration that improves your spirits.

Lastly, laws notwithstanding, sword canes.  I have not looked into them much, but I can see a place for them with older folks in your group.  I have seen some very cool looking ones and who doesn’t like a long sharp piece of steel.

Carrying The Essentials

I’m talking about the stuff you use everyday, all the time.  There are many acronyms for these items, I prefer Canterbury’s 10C’s system.  It just is simple and easy to teach to others.  Anyway when bugging out, scouting a route, looking for resources, there will be times when you shed your pack to crest a hill to look for something.  The reason will be to save energy and get there quicker, maybe you are looking for a place to go to the bathroom.  If you get turned around, caught in an ambush, or just get hurt, do you want to be without everything?

Many packs have a removable lid that converts to a waist pack.  It is my opinion that your essential gear should go in there and go with you everywhere, to bed, to the bathroom, everywhere.  If your pack doesn’t have one or it just isn’t right for the job, there are many other ways to have that stuff on you.  Pockets, on your belt, chest rig, any combination of these.  Lay out the things you want on your body at all times, the rest goes in the ruck.  Find the system that works for you and is comfortable so you never leave them behind, never.

Here are a few options that I have, all are designed to work with a backpack.  I use to use a small hydration pack strapped to the top of my large pack, it worked well.  I moved away from that in an attempt to lighten the load.  It saved a pound or two, but the option is still very good.  Waist packs come in so many designs that it will make your head spin, I have settled on some vintage pieces probably because they are more rugged than current recreational offerings.  Ribz packs are a great option too.  I have one, it is light and comfortable, I wouldn’t call it rugged, but it isn’t fragile either.

There are packs that come with an attached smaller pack.  The ones in my collection are on the heavy side.  If you have ever worn a ILBE main pack with attached assault pack, you know what I mean.  That set-up weighs in at around 15 lbs, empty.  Now it is as rugged as anything on the planet, but so are the men who carry them.  There are some great travel luggage packs with zip off day packs, very gray man units.  The downside is that the suspension isn’t as robust as more purpose driven packs.  Kinda going off course here.

My carry systems leans towards pocket kits, cargo pockets that is, and waist packs that store inside the ruck, or a combination.  My main INCH bag has a Ranger RACK chest rig that is set up for survival and not battle.  It really does work great.  Find a way that works for you, wear it, use it and don’t be afraid to admit defeat and try something else.  When you are humping down a trail and can’t turn back, you are stuck with the system you have.

Running a Cold Camp and Stealth

Bottom line is if you are bugging out drawing attention to yourself is a bad idea.  At some point you will need to Survival Stovesrest, hydrate, eat.  Starting a campfire is like sending up a flare every couple of minutes.  Water is heavy, you should have a days supply on you, after that you will need to acquire more.  Get a good filter, have some purification tablets too.  For the sake of this section, we will assume you have access to water, if you don’t, change your plan or route.  Now you can boil water, how will you do that?   There are so many stoves out there to choose from that you can spend days, weeks reading about them and trying to decide.  Why a stove vs. just building a fire?  Smoke and light, both bad in this situation.  A stove limits both, a good stove can virtually eliminate them.

A stove that requires fuel other than wood will become a liability at some point, but in the short term they very useful.  Alcohol stoves are easy, no moving parts and if you spill the fuel it doesn’t stink up your clothes forever.  Trangia’s are bombproof and are just plain cool.  Downside is that they are not great at altitude and in extremely cold  temps.  A small wood burning unit is the way to go for long term.  180 Tactical, Emberlit, SoloStove, Swiss Ranger Volcano, and many others are available at affordable prices.  All put out very little smoke, if any, after a minute when they get heated up. Also, in the honorable mention category, are the stoves that take propane/butane mix canisters.  Easy to use, instant heat, no smoke, little flame, and the stove itself is small and light.  The fuel isn’t really expensive, but impossible to improvise when you run out.

The last case for having a stove in this scenario is cooking meat on the trail.  Squirrel sushi doesn’t sound good to me.  Staying warm in a cold camp is the only other problem.  Dress appropriately.  Pretty much common sense, right?  Scrutinize your clothing and have a good sleep system.  Everyone’s area and tolerance to cold is different, but don’t skimp here.  Good clothing can be had for a song at thrift stores.  Don’t expect to get everything at one time there, but stop in every time you are driving by.  If you only find one piece a week, it adds up.  I haven’t bought a shirt, coat, boots, or pair of pants at a department store in well over a decade.  I am a cheapskate, but I don’t wear cheap clothing.  Example, I was in S. Carolina this summer, drove by a Goodwill, went in, with much ribbing from the in-laws, walked out with a pair of Levi’s cargo pants, looked new, for $5 and tax.  You never know what you will find.  My coffers are filled with quality gear too, all from thrift stores.

How Did I Get On This Subject?

Pick your lay up position wisely.  Use the terrain to your advantage by letting nature obscure your camp.  You can use a little field craft too.  Some downed branches can be used around your site for camouflage.  A depression in the ground may be all you need, just make sure it isn’t in a runoff area.  Surveillance after you set up is key, try to pick a spot that you can see approaching trouble.  If you plan on being in a spot for more than a day, keep your travels to a minimum and don’t leave tracks to and from the camp.  In a grassy area, picking a different route every time can help to not leave a trail.  So as always, please leave your ideas about this stuff in the comment section.  Sharing ideas just make us better.

Photos by:
David Mydlarz

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17 thoughts on “More Tips For Your Bug Out Bag”

  1. I use a vest that has a detachable backpack, the 10C's are kept in the vest (a cut-down swiss army jacket, sans sleeves and inner lining, lots of good-sized pockets), and the backpack carries food, extra tools (saw, garden trowel, etc., depending on need), maybe extra water in the two side pockets of the pack which each hold a 2-liter soda bottle. Adding shoulder bags increases the carry capacity for longer hauls. Since the vest can serve as the only upper garment needed in hot weather, I normally always have the 10C's on me in the field. I would advise against the sword cane because they are usually seen as a concealed weapon by most LEOs. For a walking/survival staff I prefer thick-walled aluminum conduit because (though a little heavier) it can be used for anything that a wood staff can do plus a blow gun, and a wire hoop snare through the conduit, and less sensitive to weather and heat! Good Luck and Happy Prepping (GLAHP)

  2. Good info all around.
    Their are 2 things that I would add.

    First is choose the proper type of clothing that would blend in with the BOL " Bug Out Location " no white, pink, red, yellow colored outfits in the spring, summer & fall seasons if your location is out in the bush some where. Wearing white outfits in a snow packed area would be fine. Wearing camouflage outfits in a city would make you stick out.
    I like earth tone colors personally weather in the city or out in the woods some where.

    Second is if your a smoker of cigars, pipe etc. it will give your position away.
    Not to mention the smell that can travel quite a distance.
    A trained sniper never smokes while on a mission.

  3. Just reading the article now. One quick comment though. I say a resounding NO to sword canes.

    (1) The sword blade isn't long enough/heavy enough to do what you're going to really need it to do.

    (2) Depending on how it's designed, you may lose some of the utility of the piece as an impact weapon.

    (3) Depending on where you are, how it got used and or found out, running afoul of the local laws is never a good thing. That won't be as much of a problem post SHTF, but post SHTF you're going to want REAL weapons.

    Options, depending on circumstances:

    A good walking stick can be very handy in and of itself. I would avoid the collapsible trekking poles though. I am a big boy, pushing 6'2" tall, 250+ lbs, and had one trekking pole get bent into uselessness when I tried to catch myself after tripping in some snow a few years ago. Cold Steel makes several different models that are solid polypropylene and billed as "unbreakable". While I am somewhat skeptical of that claim the one I have has lasted years, has held my weight under various circumstances, and was flat out designed to be an impact weapon. If you get one of these make sure to go to a drug store and get yourself a hard rubber cane tip for it though. The polypropylene may be "unbreakable", but it's soft enough that constantly hitting the pavement with it as you walk will wear the material down.

    If you really must have a large blade then get any one of the following that suits your fancy:

    a good Bowie knife (my personal favorite)



    Cavalry sabre*

    Japanese Katana/Ninjato knock off

    * Depending on how the hand guard is designed, these weapons may be almost totally unusable in your left hand.

    More comments later.

    • I'll just make one last quick comment. Unlike the guy in the photo at the beginning of the article carrying enough weapons to equip at least a squad [Elmer Fudd's great grandson takes up the hunt for Bugs Bunny? 🙂 ] depending on circumstances you may want to give some serious thought to how to set up your gear such that you are not obviously/visibly armed.

      These days you will never know when you are under surveillance. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that we may see some of our drone technology and tactics turned against American citizens in CONUS, either by our government gone rogue or by an invading power. In which case people may end up getting targeted by drone strikes for no better reason than they are visibly armed in an area where whoever is controlling the drone doesn't want to see armed people. While this potentially puts long guns at a disadvantage, some thought given to acquiring/improvising folding/collapsible stocks and how one goes about carrying the piece can go a long way towards mitigating that potential problem.

    • made a cane used a stainless steel car antenna as a blade kinda hard for anyone to get upset about that over a blade.
      works great about 2 foot long but not for bugging out more for urban mall walking.

  4. Pineslayer I love the first photo it is how I imagine most peoples bug out bag to look like, and logistical nightmare.
    The K.I.S.S. method and prioritizing Water, Food weapons camp gear and each region will dictate how much of each is important as a desert water is #1 in Wisconsin water is abundant in the extreme south we can layer to keep warm in the north being ready for arctic weather is a good bet.

    each region has it's challenges, bucking them would be life threatening in some areas sleeping off the ground is absolute some places it makes you like a leg of meat hanging in a freezer.
    you will have to carry filters and chemical to treat water in other areas water from springs or wells is plentiful.
    so you may need less chemicals.

    I have hunted most of my life and have seen times and places where game is almost non existent either a poor area or seasonal people counting on small game need to read the exploits of Louis & Clark these men were woodsmen experienced could hunt and out track anyone in todays world and even had help from some Indian tribes and by the end some had died from exposure disease and effects of starvation in a time when wild game numbers was at it's zenith.
    We do not know the event that makes us leave our home and area is it biological radiological lack of water game or other resources.
    I love to watch any Alaska shows they need a boat w/ motor chainsaws 4X4 vehicle, plane fuel snowmobile ammo or reloading expendables and all this and we see them have to fly extreme distances to a trap line have a secondary cabin and work many hours with no grantee of success.
    Once the obvious supply chain evaporates Alaska will be the last place to be as I recall the indigenous people used whale oil ate rancid fat and lived naked in igloos and used seal skin to keep warm enough not to die of exposure I do not see these people eating blubber and blood cake so they are not Alaskans only wannabes IMO.

    Our BOB will be our only resource from anal itching, hangnails tooth problems treat water cook trap fire defend hunt and most people cannot carry 60 pounds water is going to take up at least 8 to 9 pounds doing the math weighting the components will expose the cracks in your preparations and carrying it for a whole day will be a dose of reality now try it everyday no resupply no helo's on the horizon no friendlies air drops or supply depots.
    sorry I did not pipe in all sunshine peace and love but reality has tornadoes hail floods fire blizzards etc

  5. Roger, I like the conduit idea. Blowgun, giant drinking straw, or snare pole.

    Snake I agree with your Alaska show assessment. Ivarr would be one of the few left standing up there.

    I wish I could take credit for that first pic, but Mr. Forge found that one. I have read so many people's comments on what they would take with them. If you have a pack animal that is one thing, those who say that they are just taking a 12ga, AR, and 1911 oh and this lamp and this phonebook, that's all I need 🙂

  6. I like the conduit idea also. I made mine from 1/2' electrical conduit. At the top it has a built it flashlight that illuminates a globe type compass at a tap against the floor and inside conduit it has snares, fishing gear, fire starter and extra cordage and it can shoot reduced 410 loads. Great for hiking, mushroom hunting, camping, etc., etc.

  7. Man are you right about weight!! The bag I carry in my truck weighs all of 45-55 lbs depending on the season. 20 years ago that was no problem but now over the 60 year old mark I would not carry that weight daily for very long! Add to that a long gun and fill the water bottles and I wouldn't make 10 miles a day trying to get home to momma! I will pick and choose from the gear in the bag depending on the season and the distance from home and the terrain I have to trek through.

  8. Loved the article. One small comment. In America, sporting martial art schools, especially ones that have no direct link to Japanese lineage call a wooden staff a Bo staff. In Japanese Boku, or Bo refers to wood, and all staffs are traditionally made from wood. To keep this succinct, the "fighting Bo" might be better referred to as a "fighting staff."

  9. what's the best water filter? can't just stop at parasites, bacteria, gotta think metal chemical, particles, and radiation fall out sediment. what gun for a woman is light weight and carries more than 20 rounds, and not much bigger than a hand. can also take buck, or bird shot. also want cavilar bullet proof vest.

    • okay so wake em up, I gotta get this right, I "know" things are coming sooner than you all think. world money deadline to hit 9/30/2016 bye, bye us dollars! hello new America!

  10. When you start looking at VOC's, heavy metals and radiation the conversation changes drastically. No real packable options as far as I have heard. A proper distillation process can deal with VOC's. If the water is truly suspect and you have no other alternatives, distill it then run it through a reverse osmosis system, then hope for the best. Of course doing this on the move is probably not going to happen. I wish I had a better answer. Anybody?

  11. For a hiking staff I use a garden tool replacement handle (straight!) Heavy enough to support any weight I care to put it to. It's very effective as a weapon and you can add, as needed, a frog gig, spear head, etc.. With a paracord draw loop you can catch snakes, Also loop dogs and move them safely. Pick apples/fruit otherwise out of reach. Perfect tent/tarp pole and a makeshift fishing rod.


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