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Survival: Then vs. Now (A Look Back)

At Survival Cache, our contributing authors come to us with great ideas for articles.  Chuck has come across some old survival information from the early 1900’s that listed out gear to have in case of an emergency.  He has written a great piece looking back at the Bug Out Bag from a different era.

A Look Back

I’ve recently been looking into the B.O.B. (Bug Out Bag) lists from the early 1900’s and it got Pioneer woman Survivingme thinking about the differences between how a survivalist from that era would design their Bug Out Bag compared to a modern day survivalist such as myself.   The products available today are quite different from the limited options of the past however the function and use-ability of the basic items remains the same.

Some of the technological advances allow us to put together many similar items in our modern day Bug Out Bag to what our predecessors had but in a lighter more durable configuration.  I’m not sure that I can accurately tell you how the older generations would view my perspective, as I am a survivalist from today’s world.  The immediate threats to our predecessors were from different sources however the desired end result of the survivalist was the same, to be able to protect themselves and their loved ones either by repelling danger or escaping from it.  They also wanted to be able to continue to live and provide for their families in a situation where their common resources were scarce and in short supply.

People living in our modern world have grown more accustomed to comfort and convenience Great Depression Survivaland most of the products available today are geared towards making life easier for everyday life.  We have products like automatic coffee makers, flat screen televisions, self monitoring thermostats, refrigerators, TIVO, etc.  All of these things are great to have if your lifestyle and pocketbook can support them.  The drawback to having too many comfort items and the direction our modern day society has gone, is that there are too many people today who would not know what to do if all of these things were suddenly unavailable to them.

The people living in much earlier eras had to rely on their own sweat and hard work to have the necessities they used everyday.  They had to get their own milk from cows (or neighbors with cows), pump their own water by hand or draw it from a well or stream, build a fire when they wanted heat, grow and pick their own food and often hunt, kill and clean the animals they wanted to eat.  These people were mainly living a life that supported all of their survival skills.  For them to have to pick up and move, although inconvenient, was quite a bit more manageable.  With the advent of electricity and the automobile things have changed quite a bit.  It has opened up a number of new options for people living in the areas where these things became readily available.

As modern day survivalists, it’s important to remember our roots as a capable people, able toartic explorers surviving adapt and overcome any adverse situation that comes our way.  We can draw on the experience of our ancestors and look at their survival prep kits and compare it to what a modern day survival kit might look like.  There is no guarantee that we will always have the modern technological conveniences that we currently enjoy.  If we prepare for any survival situation that may come our way, we and our loved ones can ensure that we’ll be around to enjoy tomorrow, regardless of whether we can still see that new season of “Dancing with the Stars” on our flat screen TV.

Let’s take a look at a 1917 Bug Out Bag List: (It’s a short one)

Small hatchet
Sheath Knife
-Paper and pen
Matches in waterproof container
-Spare eyeglasses
First aid kit
Repair kit: small scissors, tweezers, dental floss, needle, safety pins, rubber band, shoelace, twine, snare wire, rigged fish line, hooks, split shot, etc.
-Toilet articles: towel, soap, toothbrush, comb, mirror.

Some of the current advantages that modern survivalist have are technology & science driven but are every bit as reliable as the tools available to earlier generations.  We have lighters, antibiotics, iodine, rechargeable batteries, solar collectors, ziplock bags, multi-tools, etc.  Although the following is not a comprehensive list for a Bug Out Bag it encompasses the essentials that I feel like I need to survive in a TEOTWAWKI situation in my home state of Maine (depending on the season).  The survival list for your Bug Out Bag will no doubt differ greatly depending on your geographic area and priorities.

This is my modern day standard survival list: (From Chuck)

– A good backpack
Fire starting tools (matches, bic lighter, blast master, flint and steel.)Bug out Bag Contents
– A good sheath knife
– Maps
– Note pad and pencil
– Canteens (or durable water bottles)
– Spare batteries (8x AA, 8xAAA, 8×123)
– Ammo for rifle and pistol (at least 200 for rifle and 100 for pistol)
Rifle and/or pistol
Sewing kit
Wire saw
– Spare warm clothes, socks, underwear, pants, shirt.
Cook kit
– 50 feet Para cord
Sleeping bag
– A durable outdoor watch
– Toilet items (wash cloth, soap, toothbrush, toilet paper, toothpaste, and a razor)
– A good folding knife
Gun cleaning kit with oil
– A couple of books
– I also have a couple of two way radios one for my wife and one for me.
– Three handkerchiefs
– Depending on the season, my snowshoes
– A good axe
– I bring Ziploc baggies to store fresh meat in or nuts and berries I find.
Multi tool(like a Leatherman, Gerber, SOG, or Winchester)
Fishing Kit
– A good “Riggers” type belt
First aid kit– band aids, triple antibiotic ointment, medical tape, gauze bandages, tweezers, a small pair of scissors, iodine, I keep a septic pencil, and super glue.

Compared to today’s standards of living that is not enough to live on comfortably.  Most migrant mother with kidspeople would agree that our modern day standard of living is geared towards things being fast and easy (convenience as the standard).  A majority of us no longer have to go out and milk the cow every morning for milk, or make our own clothes.   All we have to do is go to a local Wal-Mart or discount clothing store and spend about 13 dollars on a bunch of clothes that would have been a fortune to preppers living in 1917.  I‘ve had the honor of meeting people from that era and believe they were some of the most hard working men and women I have ever known.  My great grandfather was one of the last blacksmiths in the state of Maine and he would grab a double bitted axe by the handle, hold it out at arms length, touch the blade to his noise and say, “If you are a man you should be able to do that.”  I never knew what he meant till just a few years ago when I was talking to my father about this and he told me it was my great-grandfather’s way of saying, unless you try you never will know what you are capable of.  With this in mind, lets compare what we are prepping in our survival kit / Bug Out Bag in this era to survival kits in the past.  Will we have what we need when TEOTWAWKI happens?

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Also read Chuck’s article “Web Gear: The Backpack Alternative”

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