Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bugging Out as A Group

The Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a tool focused on providing an individual with the tools and equipment to Survive a shorter trip to a safe location in case of a sudden threat or disaster. The BOB can also be referred to as a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag, 72 Hour Kit, Grab Bag or I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) bag. In my view it’s far more likely that an individual would evacuate, or be bugging out together with family members and friends than doing so alone. This is the subject that this post will address: Tactics for bugging out as a larger or smaller group.

The size of groups can vary but ideally groups should have four to six members. The reason why this is an ideal number is that such a group can share the basic equipment needed: Shelter in form of for example a tent and stove for preparing food just name a few items. If a party consists of more than 6 people I would suggest that the group is split into smaller sub-groups that share tent and stoves. Carrying a fully equipped BOB is hard for a single individual; a single individual can’t carry all forms of specialized equipment. A larger group allows for more specialized tools and equipment too be brought than what a single individual can carry.

Individual Kits and the Group Kit
If an individual has to carry all the equipment need on he’s or her own the weight of the pack will be heavier compared to if a person could share the weight of items among a Group. The suggested step of individuals can also be reduced: It’s not necessary that every member carry multiple tools for starting a fire and several knives if every member has one. If an alone individual would carry a single knife or fire starter the consequences would be worse if this equipment would be lost compared to if this happened to a single individual. Multi functions shelters like the Fjellduk and Bivanorak functions both as a poncho and bivi-bag and can provide shelter for an individual if they would get separated from a Group.

During a real life emergency there is no telling what might happen, group members could be separated or unable to meet up so it is still important the individual packs can sustain the individuals. One of the most common forms of Groups is Families. If you are packing for a Family make sure that every member can carry their own bag. For children and young people how can walk by themselves prioritize that they carry their own clothing, water, sleeping bag and sleeping pads.

Individual Bug Out Bag
[ ] Long sleeve base layer shirt (I recommend Merino Wool)
[ ] Short sleeve base layer shirt
[ ] Change of underwear
[ ] Hat or Watch cap
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Buff or Shemag
[ ] Shell Jacket (Waterproof and wind proof)
[ ] Warm Long Sleeve Shirt
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants
[ ] Poncho, Rain Clothing, Fjellduk or Bivanorak
[ ] Hiking Boots
[ ] 2 pair of Extra socks
[ ] Watch

Choose a backpack with a steel or aluminum frame. If you’re going to carry a heavy load over some distance you’re going to need a good backpack. If the frame is internal or external is a question of what you prefer, both have advantages and disadvantages. Backpacks with external frames are generally stronger and can be used to carry other things than your bag like a wounded person or a heavy tank of water. Pack your items in waterproof bags; use different colors so that you know what’s inside the different bags. I also recommend that you get a waterproof bag or container for your cell phone. I suggest that you put certain equipment like your first aid kit in locations that are easily accessible if you would need them. Always put the same items in the same location in your bag so you don’t have to spend much time looking for your items, this also makes easier to see if something would be missing from your pack. Always carry at least one knife and your Pocket Survival Kit on your person in case you would lose your backpack.

[ ] Sleeping Bag (Sleeping bag liners helps to extend the lifetime of your sleeping bag)
[ ] Sleeping Pad, Hammock or Hennessy Hammock.

[ ] Flashlight or/and Headlamp (LED)
[ ] Extra Batteries (Lithium)

[ ] Matches in waterproof container
[ ] Lighter
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Tinder

Survival Knives
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife
[ ] Back Up Knife: Folding Knife, Multi Tool or Swiss Army Knife for example
[ ] Sharpener

Pocket Survival Kit
[ ] Matches
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Button Compass
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Whistle
[ ] Candle
[ ] Small LED lamp
[ ] Small Knife or Razor blade
[ ] Fishing kit
[ ] Pencil
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Painkillers
[ ] Anti Diarrhea Tablets
[ ] Antihistamines
[ ] Antibiotics
[ ] Condom or Alok Sak

[ ] One or Two Water bottles (Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Camelback or SIGG)
[ ] Water Bladder for your backpack; Camelback, Nalgene or similar system.
[ ] Water Purification Tablets

[ ] Freeze Dried Rations or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE:s). Pack minimum 6 meals for 72 hours
[ ] Powerbars, Flapjack, Beef jerkey, Trailmix or other snacks
[ ] Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Powdered milk
[ ] Salt and Pepper
[ ] Spork (Or Knife, Fork and Spoon)
[ ] Plate and Cup

[ ] Compass
[ ] Cash or Gold/Silver
[ ] Notebook
[ ] Pen

[ ] Roll of toilet paper (in waterproof bag)
[ ] Soap
[ ] Toothbrush, Toothpaste and Dental Floss
[ ] Razor
[ ] Hand Disinfection
[ ] Insect Repellant
[ ] Sun Block or Skin Care Lotion

[ ] 550 Paracord
[ ] Small First Aid Kit and Blister Kit
[ ] Sunglasses
[ ] Special personal needs (extra prescription glasses, medication etc)

Equipment shared by the Group
Every individual should have a personal Bug Out Bag but some of the equipment should be divided among the members most importantly:
[ ] Tent
[ ] Tent Repair Kit and Multi Tool
[ ] Stove and spare parts. Example of Stove could be a Trangia Stove, Kelly Kettle, Esbit, Multi Fuel Stoves or Jetboil.
[ ] Cooking Vessels
[ ] P-38 Can Opener
[ ] Steel wool, Mop and Washing Up Liquid
[ ] Fuel for the stove
[ ] Water Purification Filter
[ ] Map, Waterproof container for map, GPS, Extra Batteries, Compass
[ ] Large First Aid Kit with basic medication.

Examples of other items that can be divided among members of the group are:
[ ] Compact Radio with spare batteries
[ ] Axe, Machete, Parang or Folding Saw
[ ] Binoculars
[ ] Signal Flares, Emergency Strobe, Signal Mirror, Chemical Lightsticks or Spot (Satellite GPS Messenger)

At what point should one Bug Out?
The hardest questions for a Bug Out scenario is when one should be bugging out. What kind of circumstances should trigger such a response? Here Risk Assessments can help to identify potential threats but in a real crisis situation one will always have to make decisions based upon incomplete and often contradicting information. This will also have to be done under time pressure. It’s hard to manage and understand a crisis even for government agencies with enormous resources and a large staff. Knowledge and research about potential threats can help one understand how previous events have unfolded and what consequences they have had. Researching different risks in form of Man-Made and Natural Disasters that is likely to manifest in your local area can help you make better decisions based on limited information.

It’s also important that groups create routines for establishing contact if electronic communications goes down or are interrupted. Meeting points and alternative meeting points and possible routes should also be addressed. If one group decides to evacuate, where does this group leave messages to other concerning the route taken and the people how have evacuated.

The March
A briefing before the March is important so that all members know what intended route that the party intends to travel. Where should the members rally if the group members get separated? If the group is large walkie-talkies can be a useful tool for communicating between the different members of a large group especially if it’s stretched out during a March or travelling in different vehicles.

If the party travels by foot the party should stop after 15-30 min and regulate clothing so that people don’t sweat or are getting cold. If the members sweat too much dehydration may soon become a serious problem. When the group stops take time to adjust the packs so that they are comfortable to carry. Make a habit of often checking that your vital equipment like your knife rests in its sheath. When a group makes a stop also make sure that all the members are present. Never let any individual stray away alone without the group stopping, if something must be done members should always try to stay together with another individual. The pace of the party must be governed by the weakest members in the party, if members get to tired the risk of accidents and injury increases so make sure to make a short stop once per hour or after passing through rough terrain. Checking up on the members and taking care of each other is also critical. Everything from blisters, back problems, dehydration and other problems are much easier to deal with in an early stage. It’s also important for how the social dimension of the group is working.

The party members should regularly be checking the terrain behind them; especially those how walk in the rear of the party. This is very important because it can be very hard to find the way back since the terrain looks very different going back the other way. In high risk areas it can also important to see if anyone is following the party.

The rest of the members should also keep an eye open and be aware of the surrounding environment; it can be a good idea that different members keep attention to designated directions. By being alert the party can spot dangers, find water, shelter, eatable plants and sometimes other equipment that can be useful.

Setting Up and Breaking Camp
When a Group makes camp for the night it’s important that every member of the party helps out with the different tasks that must be done. Some of the tasks that should be done are
• Raising the tent or arranging shelter.
• Collecting fire wood and get a fire going in a secure location. Whenever there is fire wood available this should be used to save fuel for the stoves.
• Prepare an evening meal.
• Collecting and purifying water.

From the time that a party wakes up in the morning until the party has eaten breakfast, cleaned up and attended hygiene, packed tents and are ready to leave normally takes 1-2 hours.

• A Group are likely to have more areas of expertise than a single individual.
• In case that an individual get injured the others can give care or in a worst case scenario carry this individual on a stretcher.
• More specialized equipment can be brought helping the group to cope with more situations.
• The carrying load for each individual will be lower if a Group shares tents and stoves.

• Moving with a large group often takes longer time.
• The Group can have members with a poor physical fitness, children and elderly or even injured people that slow the phase of the Group.
• Some members are likely to have low quality equipment/clothing or be lacking some equipment.

Another important aspect is getting to know the other members of your group. Engaging in activities like hiking is an excellent way both to test equipment, routes, clothing, increase fitness, getting experience and getting to know the other members of a possible group. What are the strength and weaknesses of the members? What skills do they possess and what skills do they lack? What skills can the different members help each other obtain? Working out differences within the group before a real crisis is also important; a real crisis will be extremely hard both physically and emotionally for a group evacuating an area. Latent conflict within the group may then become a big problem. Learning how to deal with conflict within a group is something that should be dealt with before an emergency. It’s hard to know how people will react under extreme pressure, but hiking, camping and hunting trips before a real emergency will provide some opportunities to deal with these issues before.

Bug Out Vehicles (BOV)
Vehicles can make it possible to travel over distances that would take weeks to travel in a matter of hours if the conditions are excellent. A vehicle intended to be used when bugging out is often referred to as a Bug Out Vehicle or BOV. Vehicles also allow heavier equipment to be brought along. However, during an large scale evacuation from a city or urban area roads can turn into to traffic jams that can stretch for miles where the traffic bacilli comes to stand still. This problem may be reduced in some cases by taking roads that normally aren’t trafficked but is still not a guarantee. In addition to cars and trucks other alternatives can be used depending on terrain like boats, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or even air planes depending on your situation and budget.

One tactic that is often discusses is the option to stash heavy equipment along possible Bug Out routes or at alternative locations like the homes of family members or friends. Some equipment can be outstanding for wilderness life and survival, however these items are often too heavy or bulky too be carried over long distances witch make caching them a possible alternative solution. There are of course risks involved in stashing equipment, it can be stolen or destroyed by weather just to name a few. If you have to evacuate by another route than the intended one you will be unable to take advantage of the equipment. If you are planning on using this tactic you must consider the pros and cons of different locations and methods.

Example of items that can be considered
[ ] Dutch Ovens
[ ] Murrikka
[ ] Larger Tents with Woodstoves
[ ] Large Tarps
[ ] Heavy Duty Wool Blankets
[ ] Large Water Containers
[ ] Tools like Axes, Shovels, Hammers, Rope, Pick axe etc
[ ] Fire wood and fuel for vehicles and stoves

Equipment vs Skill and Experience
Equipment can help individuals cope with different kinds of crisis and survival situations by providing tools that makes it easier to find solutions for different kinds of problems. Clothing and shelter provides protection from the elements; compass, map and GPS can makes navigation in un-known territories much easier; a headlamp, chemical lightstick or flashlight can provide light during nights, knives and tools like axes makes it possible to handle a number of different tasks that almost impossible to do my hand; fire steel, matches and lighter makes it much easier to start a fire and so on. However, no matter how much gear you carry your physical and mental endurance, skills, knowing your local area, the will to survive, knowledge and most of all the persons next you will most likely be the crucial factors that determine if you survive or not.

So is this the Ultimate Guide?
In this post you have gotten some suggestions for you can put together a setup for a Group during an evacuation or for a regular hike or camping trip. This Guide is intended to provide some basic ideas and Suggestion for possible setups. However – This is not a Guide that is perfect for every climate and setting.

Every situation, climate and setting is unique and requires specific skills and equipment to be dealt with. There is no One Size fits all when it comes to Bug Out Bags. There is a huge difference if you are putting together a kit for a desert climate, jungle, winter, arctic, wilderness or urban setting. In most regions there are people how spend time outside as wilderness guides, military, hunter, hikers and many more. Find a local expert and take advice from the people how know your local situation best – the people how live and spend time there.

Also see
Bug Out Bag and Checklist
Bug Out Bag - Example of Setups
Light Weight Bug Out Bag
Get Home Bag (GHB)

1 comment:

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