from Wind, Snow and Rain can cause hypothermia and kill an unprotected
individual in a very short period of time. Shell Jackets provide an other layer
than shields you from the elements making it an excellent piece of clothing for
hiking, winter sports and Bug Out Bags. One of my personal favorites on the
market is the jacket Brede from Klättermusen. The Jacket is relatively heavy,
though and will last a very long time. I have personally used one of these
Jackets for almost ten years and its one of my personal favorites. It very
expensive but it’s a product that will perform well in extreme condition and a
product that can take an extreme amount of abuse. Some of the features include
reflector for Search and Rescue after avalanches
If you're planning for the future, consider stockpiling petroleum products. There's an oil crisis coming, and it's unavoidable. Our world's oil reserves aren't as widespread as we're often led to believe. In fact, a 2009 Wikileak found that Saudi Arabia overstated their number of oil barrels by about 40%. As our oil supplies wane, gas prices skyrocket. In the last decade, they have almost doubled. High prices and low supply aren't our only problems — many consumers want to know what will happen when we can't get our oil fix. Fracking, using dirty coal, and other forms of mining are just a few of the toxic alternatives to our nation's dependence on oil and petroleum products. If fortune favors the prepared mind, consider the implications and necessary actions of a population without access to enough petroleum. It's scary! For more information about the coming oil crisis, consider the infographic by Carinsurance.orgbelow.
Survivalist and Prepper community the concept SHTF is often used in order to
describe an event that will require the tools often discussed as tactics to
handle a massive breakdown of the modern institutions, infrastructure, law and
order. WROL or Without the Rule of Law has also started to be used in order to
describe such an event.
problem as I see it is that this type of thinking focuses on a single event
that will suddenly change everything about modern life. History shows us that
many previous civilizations have collapsed; the Romans, Mayans and the people
of the Easter Islands are just some examples. Modern examples are also
available like the collapse of the Soviet Union, the collapse of former
Yugoslavia, the Genocide in Rwanda and a number of civil wars and more or less
collapsed states like Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo and Somalia. The difficulty of
reversing this process has been demonstrated in several conflicts where
comprehensive peace building and state building processes have place. So we
know that countries, systems and civilizations can and have failed over the
course of history. Sometimes a collapse can have absolutely devastating
results, but in some cases it can also be relatively peaceful as in the case of
the Soviet Union.
What if a
Collapse is not an event but a Process?
Survivalist and Prepper movement different types of tactics and solutions has
been developed in order to be able to cope with a sudden collapse of modern
ability to escape an area buy having kit such as Bug Out Bags, Vehicles and
Plans for Escape to safer areas or alternative locations where supplies are
and storing equipment, supplies, water and other essentials in the home so that
one can “Bug In” without having to rely on others.
of tactics can be effective for disasters with a fast onset like a hurricane, a
nuclear plant meltdown and large scale accidents, but this does not mean that
this type tactics is well suited all situations. As the Economic Crisis within
the European Union progresses many choose to leave their homes and even their
home countries in order to find jobs and livelihoods. For this type of
situation a fully equipped Bug Out Bag is not as an effective tool as an education,
skills and knowledge that makes it possible to find a job elsewhere.
situation progresses it becomes clear that the standard of living that many
have experienced may become a thing of the past. Things that might be expected
unemployment and a tougher job market
prices on food, water, energy and fuel
services like schools, healthcare, law enforcement, military and other
functions of states may decrease in size and function.
being lost or lowered and the age for retirement being raised.
threats present a number of challenges to individuals and families; especially
those how already have low marginal in their economic situation. There are no
easy solutions for these types of problems but there are of course thing that
can be done by individuals and families. It’s also important to say that all
regions in the world may not develop the same; some regions may continue to
experience economical growth while other regions may go the other way.
suggested steps for increasing your resilience
to reduce your level of debt and pay of any loans you might have, in a
situation when the economy no longer grows it can become very hard to pay
interest on loans while your salary remains the same or event get lowered.
to make some savings and put some money away every month; investing money in
gold, silver, land and other type of values can also be a way to improve your
how to make do with less and save where you can.
together with your community; it is likely that many services may no longer be
available in the same way as they have before. Non Governmental Organizations
already provides services for Search and Rescue, Education and Social Services and
other fields around the world.
buying gear try to investment in quality gear that will stand the test of time.
Also try to repair and learn to repair gear instead of throwing things away and
buying something new as soon as it breaks.
local opportunities and local options to ensure your basic needs.
all; I don’t want to pretend that I know what tomorrow will bring. There are
however a number of challenges that is not being recognized either as parts or
as a whole by the political and economical community. Viewing a potential
collapse as a process and not as an event presents a number of problems to actually
preparing for such an event. One thing that is clear however is that as things
change what we regard as normal will change over time, lower wages, higher gas
prices, lowered pensions and other problems will no longer be viewed as
imminent disaster, but as everyday life.
political system in the United States and within the European Union is focused
on the notion of growth. This makes it very hard to recognize that there might
be limitations like
fuels that provide over 80% of all energy used today are not an unlimited
recourse and that we might reach a Peak in the world production.
land is not an unlimited recourse
renewable and non renewable resource like topsoil, phosphor, fresh water and
forests does not exist in an unlimited quantity.
the increase of the world population might create challenges and problems
such a situation is not easy and solutions that work in some settings for some
people may not work in other settings. Solutions must be based on the local climate,
terrain, population and opportunities that exist. Some change may come from the
top of the political and economical system but it’s likely that challenges presented
will be ignored and that adapting to the changing situation will have to be
done by people themselves; you have to take responsibility for your own
For Bug Out Bags and Hiking Bags Gas Stoves provides one of the easiest and fastest ways to boil water and prepare a meal. Most Gas Stoves are built on the same principle; you have the gas bottle in the bottom of the stove; a burner on top of the gas bottle and a pot on top of the burner. There are many different type of stoves on the market that use this principle; the stoves from JetBoil, Optimus, Soto and Primus.
The Danish company Heatgear has developed a stove that does not follow this conventional approach and is instead based around a water bottle that is heated by small gas tubes. The stove called Heatstick comes in two different sizes; 0,5 liter and 1 liter. ´
The company Heatgear promise many advantages:
• High efficiency and compact, and light weight design
• Stealthy performance that does not produce much heat or light compared to gas stoves and multi fuel stoves; something that can be important for hunters and military units.
• Safe since it does not produce and open flame that can ignite surrounding materials.
• Standard wide mouth so that the water bottles are compatible with water filters from Katadyn and MSR.
Some of the aspects that makes the stove a less interesting option
• The Heatstick stove currently has a price that is more than double the regular price of a compact Gas Stove.
• Other Gas Stoves have standardized Gas Bottles making easy to find replacements at most stores that sell outdoors equipment; the special Gas Bottles for this stove called Fuelsticks can make this more complicated for owners of this stove.
In some previous articles I have discussed some possible ways to approach the subject of Bug Out Bags from a light weight perspective. In this article I will focus on Ultra Light Weight Equipment and what type of gear you can go for if you want to build an Ultra Light Weight pack for outdoor activities or as a BOB. The Ultra Light Weight Hiking movement has become very popular and new equipment becomes available all the time. In this article I will give some examples of equipment that is available.
All Bug Out Bags must be adapted to the person that uses the setup, the local climate, seasonal variations and terrain. One Size Do Not fit All and this article is only intended to provide the reader with some inspirations for their own setups. For some of the considerations that should be included see the article Building the right Bug Out Bag for You.
Suggestion for an Ultra Light Bug Out Bag
Weight: 4,155kg without water, 7,235kg including water (around 16 pounds including 3 liter of Water)
In this Ultra Light Weight setup there is still clothing and shelter included to help shield you from the elements in the form of a Ultra Light Rain clothing, a Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Matress and a Tarp. The Tarp is extremely light with a weight of only 70 grams and made from the same material as the ultra light tents from Terra Nova; it is however very expensive. A light weight tarp in the same size from a hardware store has a weight of around 200g-240g and price of only a few dollars. In this setup instead of paracord a cord made of Dyneema was included; this cord is lighter than paracord and has a strength than can hold around 300kg.
The Survival Knife in this setup; The Mora Companion is a light weight alternative that does not have a full tang; but I would argue that this knife is one of the absolutely best knives that can be found for this price; cheap, very sharp and sturdy enough for most tasks in the outdoors. The knife can also be found in a number of colors; from forest green to safety orange. If you want a Mora Knife with a sturdier blade you can check out the Mora Bushcraft Triflex. As a secondary knife the super light weight folding knife Fällkniven U-4 is included in the Pocket Survival Kit; this knife is also excellent for Every Day Carry (EDC).
Two tools are included to start a fire; a compact Fire Steel from FireSteel.com and a simple lighter from BIC giving you two reliable options to get a fire going. If you want to have more options you can include some tinder like cotton balls soaked with Vaseline and some matches in waterproof bag.
The Tikka 2 Headlamp from Petzl is a headlamp with one red and one white LED; the red LED can be useful in situations when you don’t want to attract attention or preserve your night vision. A headlamp many advantages over a flashlight since they allow you to perform repairs, first aid, raise tents and other work during the night and low light conditions and still use both of your hands. If you want a compact Flashlight instead the Fenix LD-12 or 4Sevens Quark Tactical QTA provides a high amount light in a compact and light format.
Normally Pocket Survival Kits comes in a relatively heavy metal or plastic container; in order to save some weight you can simply pack a small kit by yourself in a waterproof zip lock bag like an AlokSak.
Water is one of the most critical aspects of survival in any climate and the access to water in combination with the climate must be a central aspect of your planning and setup. Water is very heavy so if the access to water is good you can get along with carrying just a little water; but if not you must adjust accordingly. For water normal Soda Bottles that can you clean carefully provides one of the lightest alternatives you can find even if they are not as sturdy as a bottle from Nalgene or Klean Kanteen. If the water in your area is relatively clean in your area you can get along with just brining Water Purification Tablets, but if the quality of the water requires more treatment a compact filter or a water bottle that has a filter included can be worth considering.
For cooking a light weight Gas Stove provides a method of cooking that is fast, effective and light weight. The JetBoil SOL is a suitable system for one person that includes the burner and a pot. All small gas stoves really benefits from having a stabilizer that is attached to bottom of the stove; this makes the stove more reliable and reduce the risk that you accidently tip the stove over and spill boiling water over yourself or lose a meal. A 100g container of gas provides enough heat to boil around 10-12 liters of water. Freeze dried food is an excellent source of food in combination with a gas stove if there is access to water in your area since its light weight and has a long shelf life. There are many different companies that make freeze dried food; find the company that you personally like the best. The rations from the Norwegian Company Drytech are used by military units in Scandinavia; they are vacuumed pack to reduce weight, increase shelf life and reduce the amount of space they take up in your kit.
The First Aid Kit is quite basic and minimalistic; just intended to deal with minor cuts and problems like blisters. For hygiene a tooth brush and some tooth paste is included; in order to save a few grams you can cut the handle of the tooth brush making it a little shorter. For hygiene a little soap can help you stay clean and avoid infections. Normal soap in the size you can find from hotels provides a light weight alternative.
The Backpack in this setup is relatively big for a light weight pack making it possible to add a little extra equipment like a few pieces of clothing, documents like and ID-Card, Immunization Card, Passport, navigation tools like a GPS, Snacks and Tea Bags etc. The lightweight packs from Osprey, the Jam 50 or Jam 70 from GoLite and the Mariposa 2012 can be alternatives to the suggested pack.
This setup is centered on different types of Ultra Light Equipment but still provides a comprehensive setup with a weight of around 7 kilograms including 3 liters of Water. Some personal equipment and clothing would most likely have to be included as well but the weight of the pack is still low. A Bug Out Bag does not have to consist of only Ultra Light Weight equipment as in this setup; but by incorporating some Ultra Light Items you can reduce the weight of regular setup or a regular hiking pack.
Since Ultra Light Weight Equipment does not provide the same amount of insulation and protection from the elements as thicker fabrics the clothing you carry is extra important in order to avoid hypothermia. In cold weather settings this approach is not as effective since it leaves you vulnerable to the elements; an Ultra Light Approach can however be a successful concept during the summers even in Northern Regions. The critical aspect is that you know the limitations of the gear and adapt accordingly; experience, knowledge and skills becomes extra important and you must handle the gear with more care.
• A lighter pack makes it easier to move around; especially if you are suffering from problems with your back or knees.
• You can generally move faster and longer distances with a lighter bag; something that can be crucial during an evacuation if you have to move by foot.
• Carrying as light bag helps to conserve energy and allows you to stay more alert and can thereby help avoiding dangers and injuries during travel.
• Ultra Light Equipment has thinner fabrics and is less sturdy than regular equipment making them more likely to break and be affected by wear.
• High Quality Ultra Light Equipment tend to be very expensive making it a big investment; especially if you don’t intend on using the equipment for your regular outdoor activities
• Ultra light sleeping bags and sleeping mattresses tend to be less comfortable and not provide the same amount of insulation and comfort as thicker and sturdier models. Knowing your equipment, your own terrain and climate is extra important for this type of equipment; you must know how to utilize it and what limitations your gear has. In general I would not recommend the ultra light approach for settings with very cold or extreme weather.
I would like to take the opportunity and recommend an interview with the former Director of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) James R. Schlesinger on the subject of Peak Oil. Schlesinger has had a number of different high posts in the US including Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy.
In order to understand the world around us and be able to identify potential threats Intelligence Agencies and other organizations around the world engage in the collection of information through various channels. Today the vast majority of information is gathered by intercepting electronic communications like internet traffic and radio traffic but other technical tools like satellites are also being utilized. New tools like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV:s) have been introduced and allows operators to collect information without having to risk lives and some models like the Predator and the Reaper can also engage targets directly. UAV:s have initially been used by Military Forces and Intelligence Agencies but are starting to be employed by civilian actors as well.
Information gathered from Human Sources is often referred to as HumInt. The use of HumInt varies between different actors like police, military, intelligence agencies, diplomats and businesses. Sometimes human source are treated in a way that is not in the best interest of the source. This can be the case for police informers and other more extreme cases like the massive killings in the Soviet Union in the 1930:s. Torture and other cruel treatments have been used in totalitarian regimes as a way to collect information but similar methods have also been employed by more and less democratic states. In some cases sources can be used without them being aware that the information their collecting is being used by others.
During Disasters and Crisis Situations information can often be provided by groups like
·Refugees and Displaced People – what areas do they have firsthand knowledge about and what areas do they only know indirectly?
·Locals; Taxi Drivers, Bus Drivers, people working in the restaurant business etc
·Tourists and Travelers
Interviewing people and asking questions Needless to say all interviews must be adapted to the situation and context where they take place; it’s one thing to interview a high level official during in the office of this person a calm day and another trying to get information from someone that has escaped after a natural disaster in the middle of the crisis. In this article I use the term “interview”, this can be a formal process but it can also be as simple as meeting someone and starting a conversation in order to get some information.
There are many problems with collecting information from Human Sources; one of the major problems is what an individual actually knows and how well this actually represents the situation in an area. Refugees can have lived in a small local area in a country and traveled through areas that haven’t been that affected by natural disasters or conflict. If this is the case the information may not represent the entire picture so it is important to understand what time and place specific information comes from. Rumors and contradicting information often circulate so it is important to understand
·What has the person experienced and seen firsthand
·What has the person heard through rumors, family members, friends, the Media etc? The more people a piece of information has passed by the larger are the chance it has been altered or misunderstood. It’s also common that specific stories can be told by many people without them actually having experienced it.
This can be particularly problematic after a natural disaster or for refugees after a civil war since the people you encounter may be very random and from different areas and different social backgrounds. Another major problem with getting information from people is that questions shape the answers. This is probably the biggest challenge for interviews; asking the right questions. The more precise the question – the more precise the answer will be. In many cases it can just as important get information about an phenomena or development as it is to know that it not there. The presence of hostile troops in a certain area can be an example. Sensitive issues are often extra problematic. One example is unpopular activities or phenomena’s. If asked is an unpopular phenomena should be allowed or not more people tend to say it shouldn’t than if the question is formulated so that it asks if an unpopular activity should be forbidden. Words and formulations affect the answers.
It can also be problematic to interview people in a group; in this case the individuals may affect each other and the answers given. If it’s possible it can be a good idea to try to interview people separately instead of doing so in groups.
Refugees can expect to get advantages if they provide the information someone wants to hear and thereby shape their answers accordingly if they can notice a theme in the questions that is being asked. This can also be a problem for interrogators; if the subject start realizing what the interrogators is looking for they can adjust their answers accordingly.
If asking a person a serious of question regarding what they have experienced or regarding the situation in a particular area it can be a good idea to also ask follow up question like if the informant have something to add that you haven’t asked about. This opens up the possibility to get vital information that falls outside your own expectations and increase the chance you will receive unexpected answers. In some cases information from people can be collected face-to-face but it’s also possible to collect information using cell phones, satellite phones, text messages, radio, e-mail, written letters and other tools like social networks. Many Intelligence Agencies and Crisis Management Organizations use their own platforms in order to share and distribute information; using specific groups in Social Networks can an alternative way for people without these resources to use web-based solution to share information but also provide the option of sharing pictures and video. For sensitive information encryption can be used to protect the information or it can be passed on using method like dead drops.
The first step of being able to interview someone for information is making contact; if you are interviewing someone I suggest that you introduce yourself and tell them how you are and why you would like to know more about what’s going on. Often it can be advantage being introduced by someone the person you would like to interview knows if this sis possible. If you’re just asking as private individual or if you’re working for an organization managing a crisis let this be known. Be friendly and polite.
The scene of the interview
One important aspect when conducting an interview is where the interview or talk takes place. It can be good if you can find some place where you can talk privately since the presence of many people can affect the answers. The nature of the situation affects how important this is; it is one thing to interview someone after a natural disaster and very different thing to interview someone in a collapsed state if the interviewed person fears for their life. Your own appearance is also important; how you are dressed and behave can affect if someone choose to give you information or not.
Problems with conducting interviews
There are many forms of problems than limit the amount of information that can be collected from human sources; one common barrier is language. This was a big problem for Intelligence Agencies after the terrorist attacks after 9/11 when many agencies had a limited or no capacity at all to handle this problem; a problem that was also enhanced by the need for secrecy and problems with recruiting new personnel. Language can also be problematic since it might require a great knowledge in order to detect the exact meaning of phrases; especially if there are differences in culture as well.
When asking questions one thing to look out for is that many people often tend to agree with statements rather than disagree. It can therefore be wise to avoid leading questions when you ask a person if they agree with a statement or not; by using more open questions this problem can be reduced.
Another common problem is how the language is used; it can be difficult to understand a question asked in your own language if question is asked in way that makes it hard to understand what the question really is about. This includes specific terms used in professions, slang and “big” words. Another problem can be is if you use vague words when the meaning of the word can be interpreted in many ways. One way to minimize this problem is to test questions on a friend or someone you know before you use them.
·Try to keep the questions short and precise
·Take your time and don’t stress through and interview; it’s important to you allow the person you’re talking to finish their answers. Also avoid asking about two separate issues in the same question; it makes it hard for the interviewed person to remember the question. One question at a time.
Finding and getting access to translators is a problematic process and even if you can get a translator it’s hard to know if the translation is correct and if some points are being lost in translation. Another problem is the potential loyalty of the translators; especially for military forces working in locations they are not familiar with.
After an Interview
When you have completed an interview it can be a good idea to ask for the person’s name and contact information if you would have to get in contact with them. It can be hard time to remember all the details of an interview afterwards so when you completed an interview write down the details; if you feel that you have to write down details under the interview or record the conversation I suggest that you ask for the persons permission to do so; especially when it comes to recordings. If you record an conversation with someone without their knowledge it is serious breach of trust; especially if the person you interview discover this during or after the interview.
·When did the interview take place and where did it take place?
·How did you interview? If you don’t know the name what other characteristics did you notice; age, hair, clothing etc.
·What did you ask and what did you learn?
Collapsed States and Civil Wars
In collapsed states and civil wars some of the refugees may be fleeing for political reasons, away from ethnic cleansing or from precaution; the information you collect could possibly put someone’s life at risk if it falls into the wrong hands so make sure that you do all you can in order to protect it and the source you collect it from.
In conflict zones and collapsed states information can sometimes be acquired from
·Different types of Militias and Resistance Groups in the country
·Non Government Organizations (NGO:s) working in the area
·UN Officials or Peacekeeping Forces working in the area
·Political Groups in exile
·Maintenance and service personnel
One question that can be very hard to determine is if a Human Source is reliable? Some aspects that can be worth thinking about is
·Loyalty – How is the source and what motivates the source to share information?
·What type of Knowledge, Experience and Education does the source have?
Some human sources can prove to have great worth; some of the most important sources of information are often people; especially when it comes to understanding the motivation, goals and plans of an adversary since this information can be impossible to gather by other means. Human sources like individual located in the top of other intelligence agencies can be ultimate sources; a singular source of this nature can often be more valuable than all other sources combined. The secrecy surrounding intelligence agencies often makes the best sources the one that is hardest to get access to since information is shared on a need to know basis and low level personnel might not even know why they perform certain tasks.
During Crisis Situations it’s important to also take the psychological reactions of individuals into consideration; during high stress situations affects perception in different way, something that can often be referred to as tunnel vision; and it can be a factor even for experienced personal within the police or military. The change of perception does not only have to be what a person focus on; it can also be other things like the sense of time meaning that an event may have passed slower or faster than an individual think it did and they might have missed details that would have been easy to detect for a neutral observer.
For Intelligence Agencies and Military Actors one potential problem is disinformation. Disinformation can be used to gain advantages in military operations both on a tactical but also on a strategic level. Disinformation can be false information that is being planted or true information that has been altered to create confusion or make an adversary draw incorrect assumptions. The importance of disinformation and deception is nothing new; this is one of the central parts of Sun Tzu:s “The Art of War”. In the Soviet Union this was known as Maskirovka; something that was being utilized on all levels in order to cloak intentions and capability. Disinformation can often be particularly effective if used to reinforce the existing perception of an adversary.
Disinformation can be used to
·Make an adversary draw the wrong conclusions regarding the capacity of an individual, military force or business.
·Mask the intentions of an actor
·Delay actions of an adversary
·Create confusion or fear
·Make it harder for an adversary to regain the initiative
These factors are often more important to actors that are inferior to their counterparts since it can allow the focus their efforts on specific areas. One problem with disinformation campaigns is that the information can get a life of its own; one example of this is when KGB spread the rumor that the HIV/AIDS virus was invented as biological weapon in US. Even if proof that the disease could not have been produced by the US and that it existed before the belief spread still exists among some parts of the public around the world.
Knowing if what somebody tells us is the truth or not is not easy. Most adults can only detect a lie around 50% of the time; almost the same rate as if you are simply flipping a coin. If you’re working in a Business it can be vital for detecting fraud and for Intelligence Agencies to detect disinformation.
During Crisis and Disaster Situations its can be especially hard trying to verify information so your own assessment becomes extra important. Detecting lies simply by looking for signs in the person you’re talking to is often known as Lie Spotting. Pamela Mayer is one of those how have worked to develop this field and her research and tips can be found her book “Lie Spotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception”. You also view Mayer on TED where she had a talk about her research.
In this article I have discussed some of the aspects related to gathering information from Human Sources. There are of course much more that could be discussed regarding this field but I hope that the reader has gotten some new ideas and perspectives that can be of help.
A subject that never seems to go out of style in the Prepper movement is Bug Out Bags (BOB). These types of kits are known under many names; Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) Bags, 72 Hours Kits and I’m Never Coming Home (INCH) Bags. What these survival kits have in common is that the kits are intended to be comprehensive survival kits intended to provide you everything you need in a survival or crisis situation. Many discuss the subjects of survival kits like it’s a one size fits all concept; this however not the way that I suggest that you approach the subject. Survival is about adapting to the specific situations and challenges you face and your BOB must reflect this reality.
A Bug Out Bag is only a tool in order to make it easier for you to deal with extraordinary situations; but it is still you that will have to deal with this situation and in order to do this you must have the health and physical fitness, skills and experience, knowledge and will to survive that is required to do so.
The Clothing makes the Prepper
Before we get into the subject of what to put into the BOB lets go into the subjects of clothing. The elements present one of biggest challenges in any survival situation. It normally takes few days to die from dehydration and several weeks to die from starvation but a combination of wind, rain or snow can kill an unprotected person in a matter of hours. Every setting presents its own challenges; the terrain, topography, temperatures and seasonal variations are just some of the aspects that you have to take into consideration.
The first thing I would suggest that you get is hiking boots. There are many type of footwear to choose from but in general I would recommend hiking boots as your primary footwear. There are several types intended for the arctic, jungle and desert. The important aspect is that your footwear can deal with terrain and setting you face. In addition to your boots I suggest that you choose your socks carefully; socks made from merino wool or wool still provides some heat even if they get wet. Wools socks or not; walking around with soaking wet boots can mess up your entire day so make sure that you bring extra socks. Gaiters are an excellent complement that can help keeping water, snow and dirt from getting into your boots in the first place. Having an extra pair of light weight shoes in the pack can be very valuable if you have to dry your boots after a day’s walk. It can also be useful after you established camp; the models from Fivefingers or the Trailglove shoes from Merrell can be worth checking out.
Base layers is the layer of clothing that you have closest to your body; the idea is that your base layer should provide warmth and provide insulation even if it’s wet and dry easily. Normally two major materials is used; synthetic fabrics and merino wool. Synthetic fabrics are often cheaper than merino wool but have the disadvantage that they can melt if subjected to fire or extreme heat. Merino wool is a natural product with several advantages over synthetic fabrics
· Merino wool can in most cases be washed in a washing machine and does not have to be hand washed as regular wool.
· Merino wool does not irritate the skin in the same way as regular wool
· Merino wool does not melt if subjected to fire or heat
· Merino wool does not contract an odor as easily as synthetic fabrics
It is often said that “cotton kills” since it does not provide warmth if it gets wet from rain or perspiration in the same way as base layers made from synthetic fabrics or merino wool. The performance of all base layers is lowered when it gets wet, therefore I suggest that you include at least one extra base layer shirt in your pack; having an extra layer can allow you to change your layers and allow the wet one to dry and it can also be used to regulate your clothing accordingly to the temperature by simply adding an additional layer if needed. I would not recommend cotton as your primary base layer, but if you only have cotton shirts make sure that you bring an extra in order to minimize the problem. In some situations the disadvantage cotton presents can be turned into an advantage by using a base layer made from merino wool or synthetic fabrics as your first layer and then add a second layer made from cotton.. If you have to perform intense physical tasks the cotton layer will absorb the perspiration through the first layer and help keeping the first layer dry.
If you keep you extra clothing in a water proof packs sack you increase the chance it will be dry if you ever need it; this is particularly important if you would fall through thin ice and need to change your clothing immediately.
Mid layers is intended to provide you with insulation between your base layer and outer shell. Fleece is a light weight synthetic material that is that provides excellent insulation. There are countless brands on the market; a model with a zipper makes it easy to get the jacket on and off as you need it. Two of my personal favorites are the Houdini Power Houdi and the Houdini Power Jacket. There are also other solutions like shirts with either down or synthetic like prima loft that provide extreme insulation during cold weather. These solutions can often be compressed just like a sleeping bag and generally take up very little space in a pack. These solutions are often to warm do wear when you’re on the move but can provide great insulation and extra security when you break for camp or have to stop.
The shell is the outer layer that provides you with a shield against wind and rain. There are many different types of shell jackets; most regular shell jackets are made with some kind of membrane like Gore-Tex, with these shell layers you can often make do without additional rain clothing. These jackets “breath” and let water vapor be transported through the membrane but stop drops of water in the form of rain from reaching your mid and base layers. Regular shell jackets than can often be somewhat uncomfortable to wear and they can sometimes also make noise while moving something than can be a problem while engaging in activities when silence is required like hunting.
Soft shell is another fabric that is softer than regular shell jackets and more comfortable to carry. It does not provide the same amount of protection as a regular shell jacket but is in my experience sufficient for most situations. The main advantage is that soft shell jacket often “breath” better and thereby keeping you drier if you engage in intense physical activities and that it is also a more quite material to move around in. Soft shell and Shell Jackets are the most common outer layers; but there are also other options like extremely densely woven cotton that provides a quite good and resistance to wind and rain and have a much higher breathing than normal shell and soft shell materials. This type of cotton has been used in survival suits for fighter pilots for its ability to keep water for some time but still let some air through.
Rain Clothing and Ponchos can also be an alternative; since they often provide an even better protection than shell jackets in extreme conditions; but since they don’t “breath” very well they will often make you wet from perspiration if used during intense physical activities. If you go for a poncho I suggest that you get a pair of rain trousers as well since a poncho does not provide a full cover for your legs. There are also excellent combination shelters that work both as a Poncho, Tarp and Bivi-Bag; the Fjellduk from Helsport and Bivanorak from Hilleberg are two examples. There is ultra-light rain clothing that has a very low weight; as an example the combination of the Atomic Jacket and Atomic Pants from Montane has a combined weight of only 525 grams.
In cold and wind your hands is one of the most exposed parts of your body. A pair of gloves is important in order to stay warm but also in order to avoid injuries. The Montane Sabertooth Soft shell Gloves is one of my personal favorites that works well in most situations and provides good flexibility if you have to engage in tasks that require some dexterity. Thin leather working gloves is another great option, but if you want gloves that provide even more protection there are gloves especially intended to provide protection from cuts and knives from Hatch and other companies.
Having a hat or cap is extremely important in cold climates since you will lose much heat otherwise. A cap made from wool works well in most situations but in extreme condition a shell cap like the Lowe Alpin Mountain Cap can be a good alternative. In warm climate a hat or baseball cap can provide protection from the sun. There are many for of multifunction scarfs like the Buff available that can be used as a scarf, balaclava and cap and in many other configurations that can be a good complement to a hat. The Shemag is a larger scarf normally made from cotton that can also be for a number of other uses like a towel.
What’s in your Pockets?
Before we start discussing Bug Out Bags it can be a good idea to Every Day Carry (EDC). EDC is what you normally with you pockets on an everyday basis. Disaster and Crisis Situations can take place when you least expect it and what you have on your person may be all that you will have available.
I suggest that you try to carry a few basic items. A compact Folding Knife or a Swiss Army Knife is a great tool that will do most tasks that you need. The Fällkniven U-4 is one of my personal favorite for EDC, its 22 grams provides an extremely light weight knife and it has an excellent blade steel. Some type of fire starter like BIC lighter is very cheap and works well for most situations. A watch and a compact flashlight can also be good addition.
The Bug Out Bag
What kind of bag or back-pack you should choose depends on long number of different factors. In general I would recommend that you for a backpack since it allow you to comfortably carry the equipment you need. It is however possible to use a long number of different alternatives like a Rolling Luggage Bag, Duffel bags or hard case bags like the ones from Pelican.
One of the most common recommendations for a Bug Out Bag is to use a 72 Hours Assault Pack or some type of tactical bag with MOLLE straps, extra Pouches etc like the packs from Maxpedition or Kifaru, These often have many options for arranging your equipment and the option of adding extra pouches. This packs have the advantage of providing excellent options for organizing the equipment; but they can often lack comfort; something that is critical if you ever have to carry the pack for long distances. When you choose your pack I suggest that you prioritize two things; Comfort and Function. It does not matter how your packs look, the important aspect is that it is comfortable to carry and that it provides the function you need from it. Having an Internal or External frame in your pack makes the pack more comfortable to carry, especially if you have to carry a heavy load. Make sure that the shoulder straps and waist belt fits is comfortable and that the size of the bag is the right one for the length of your back. Making sure that the equipment you carry in your pack stays dry is also important; by using waterproof pack sacks or a backpack cover can minimize these types of problems.
If you have to leave your home you might need somewhere to take shelter for the night if you can’t find other accommodations. What type of shelter you should get depends on your situation, your climate and the local terrain.
Tents have the major advantage that they can provide a shelter in almost any location; even if there are no trees or other types of materials that can be used to provide a shelter. A tent can also keep bugs and mosquitoes out and allow you to get the best rest you can. A model with a single pole is normally the lightest model that can found; the more poles a tent have the less sensitive the tent is to extreme weather. A tent is a particularly effective solution if you have to treat a wounded or hypothermic person since it provides excellent shelter from the elements.
Tarps can be a good alternative to improvise different kinds of shelter and they can also be used to provide extra protection over a regular tent. They are often quite cheap and there are light weight models available in most hardware stores. There are also ultra light models of high quality available from Hilleberg and Exped; but these are very expensive compared to a regular tarp.
Hammocks or Hennessy Hammocks can be effective and light weight alternatives; especially in relatively warm climates where you easily find trees and other places to attach the hammock.
A Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Mattress can help you stay warm in cold climates and provide insulation from the ground. A light weight sleeping bag is often enough to keep you alive even in quite cold settings but its recommended that you try to get a bag that is specifically chosen for the temperatures you encounter. Sleeping bags with down as insullation is often very light weight and provides excellent insulation as long as they remain dry. But if a sleeping bag made from down gets wet it loses much of its insulating properties; something that can be fatal. Sleeping bags with synthetic insulation are often heavier and bulkier but on the other hand they provide a somewhat better insulation if they get wet.
A knife is one of the most important tools you can carry for preparedness. Since its one of the most important tools I suggest that you carry two knives so that you have one extra if you would lose or break one of your knives. I suggest that you use your EDC knife as your backup knife and that you choose a sturdy knife for your BOB. Different types of knives have different strength and weaknesses. A multi-tool like the models from Leatherman is excellent for many types of different tasks but can often be quite heavy. If you engage in outdoor activities and bush craft I would suggest that you go for a fixed blade knife. Some recommended models for EDC;
The main advantage with a fixed blade knife is that it does not have any moving parts that can break; even the strongest folding knife will be damaged if you use it repeatedly for splitting firewood or other heavy duty tasks for extended periods of time. Some recommended models:
If you live in an area where you might end up traveling through forests or similar terrain an axe or folding saw can be an excellent complement to a survival knife if you have to construct shelters or gather fire wood.
During night and low light conditions having some kind of flashlight or headlamp available can be critical if you are trying to signal for help, perform first aid or build a shelter. Modern LED lights can provide much light in combination with a long battery life and they are also much more robust than older incensement bulbs. Some recommended models
A fire can provide you with many aspects in a survival situation; it can help you prepare food, boil water in order to disinfects it, provide you with heat if you’re cold, light so that you can signal for help and comfort. Matches is one of the easiest way to start a fire, the main disadvantage is that they often don’t work if subjected to water or dirt; therefore make sure that you keep them in a waterproof bag or container. A normal lighter like a BIC lighter last longer than many boxes of matches but have the disadvantage that they can break or stop working if subjected to rain, dirt or snow.A Fire Steel has the main advantage that it works no matter if its subjected to rain, dirt or snow; but it requires practice and that you know what type of tinder that works best in order to be used effectively. Tinder can help you to start a fire more easily; one of the most effective types of tinder is to take cotton balls and soak them in petroleum jelly, another effective but more expensive solution is WetFire from UST.
Pocket Survival Kits
A Pocket Survival Kit is a compact kit containing some basic tools that can be critical to have during a survival situation. A Pocket Survival Kit can help you keeping some extra equipment like a sewing kit, extra fire starter, button compass, a compact blade, fishing kit, snare wire and other essentials organized in your pack. A Pocket Survival Kit can also be carried on your person as a back-up in case you would loose your Bug Out Bag.
Water and Water Purification
Water is a critical part in any survival situation, an individual will only survive a few days without water and even small loses in fluid will have a large impact on the physical and mental capacity. How much water you should carry in your Bug Out Bag depends on several factors; if you live in an area where clean water is easy to find it does not make much sense to carry much water in your pack since water is very heavy to carry. But if you live in an area where water is very hard to find and the climate very hot you will have to adapt your Bug Out Bag accordingly.
I also suggest that you add some type of equipment to purify water either by disinfect the water using water purification tablets or filtering the water using a water purification filter. Water borne diseases can cause various forms of illnesses; by taking measures you can reduce the risk of contracting such disease. Water borne diseases can also spread after natural disasters like earthquakes that often break pipes so that waste water and fresh water mix resulting in a situation where water that was previously safe no longer is.
Food and Cooking
Normally it takes a few weeks for an individual to die from famine if no food of any kind is available. The lack of food is however a problem during a survival situation for a number of reasons; the lack of food reduce a person’s stamina and ability to generate heat making them more vulnerable to hypothermia but also affect the mind and the ability to reason. The psychological reactions to not having any food available can also be severe; after only a few days this often turns into an obsession
I therefore suggest that you try to include some kind of food in your BOB. Freeze dried rations have the main advantage that they take up very little room in your pack and they are also very light; normally a ration has a weight of just over 100 grams. Freeze dried rations often have a shelf life of a couple of years and should be rotated on a regular basis. The main disadvantage is that freeze dried rations require extra water (hot water), they are often expensive and your stomach might not appreciate to eat only freeze dried for over an extended period of time.
Physical injuries can easily occur during outdoor activities, in your everyday life and as a result of Man-Made or Natural Disasters. In order to prepare for this learning First Aid and Disaster Medicine is very important. A First Aid Kit can provide a good tool kit that can help you to treat injuries more effectively and by having sterile bandages and other equipment available reduce the risk of infections. I also suggest that you include blister plasters, pain killers and anti-diarrheal tablets in your first aid kit in addition to any prescription medication that you might require.
Normally hygiene is not the most important aspect of making it through short term emergencies; but having the access to soap, a towel, toilet paper and a tooth brush can help you stay clean and reduce the risk of infections especially during long lasting emergencies. In addition to this some basic items for hygiene will help keeping your spirit up something that can be very important.
Bug Out Bags is often discussed as a tool to survive in the wilderness; but for many people living in cities during an evacuation it may be much more important to have some cash and credit card available, a charger for your cell phone or your passport and ID. Having the correct medical insurance and insurance for your property is often very important to handle the economical aftermath of a disaster. There are also almost always personal needs like prescription glasses or specific medication that must be included.
Modern smart phones are excellent tools that can provide you with the ability to communicate through social networks, e-mail and other digital means but can also provide tools like GPS and map so that you easily find your way around. One the main drawbacks are the capacity of the battery that is often depleted fast using the applications. A cell phone charger can be an excellent thing to have in your pack, but in many situations the electrical grid may be down or unavailable. There are excellent compact lithium-ion power packs on the market that with a capacity of around 3500-5000 ; enough to charge a modern smart phone twice or more. There are also more comprehensive solutions that combine solar charges and massive li-ion batteries like the Powermonkey Extreme. Another drawback is that these phones are sensitive to the elements and must be treated carefully; sometimes just dropping the phone on the ground is enough to break the screen. One way of minimizing this problem is to get a water proof container or a custom fitted case; especially if you use your phone while biking this type of solution can be very helpful since it allows to use navigation functions without having to hold the phone in your hand; some excellent solutions is available through the company UltimateAddons.
In most situations cell phones provides the most effective way to communicate and call for help; but there are also other tools like the SPOT that can send SOS messages using satellites that contain your exact position using GPS. Other more basic tools can include whistles, signal mirrors or strobes that can be used to attract attention.
The Practical Aspect
The Bug Out Bag is often discussed as something that has to be perfect; every single part of equipment has to be the best piece than can be bought for money – or your dead. So how important is it to have the perfect Bug Out Bag? My answer would be that the BOB itself isn’t the most critical component. The most important aspect is YOU. There are situations when a BOB can really make a difference for your chances to survive a disaster, but the majority of natural disasters and man-made disasters don’t call for an evacuation in order to survive.
What type of activities do you normally engage in?
When you build your BOB I would suggest that you try to find equipment that you need for the type of outdoor activities that you normally engage in like hiking, hunting, camping and other activities. One of the most important aspects is that you know your equipment; how to use it, its limitations and strengths so that you can utilize it in the best way.
Building a high quality Bug Out Bag can set you back literary thousands of dollars; there is basically no upper limit for the potential price. If you build a setup only intended to be used during emergencies you might end up with an extremely expensive setup that you will never enjoy or use. The equipment you choose should work just as well for your regular needs as for your need during an emergency.
Having a specific kit for evacuations can be critical for some type of emergencies; but far from all disasters require this capacity in order for people to survive. A Bug Out Bag can provide you with tools during other situations
· Extra warmth in form of a sleeping bag in case the electrical grid goes down
· Light in the form of a flashlight or headlamp in case of black out
· The ability to prepare food if your regular stove stops working
· The ability to store and purify water
· A first aid kit in case of accidents in your home
· Tools in the form of a knife or multi-tool
In the Prepper and Survivalist community many often discuss preparedness in terms of discussing a complete and sudden collapse of modern society; in some cases there are also references to conspiracy theories and fictional literature. I suggest that you primary focus when building a kit is the specific Natural and Man-Made disasters that you may encounter in your specific setting by making a basic Risk Assessment.
[ ] Long sleeve base layer shirt (I recommend Merino Wool)
[ ] Short sleeve base layer shirt
[ ] Change of underwear
[ ] Hat or Watch cap
[ ] Gloves
[ ] Buff, Scarf or Shemag
[ ] Shell Jacket (Waterproof and Wind Proof)
[ ] Warm long sleeve shirt
[ ] Heavy Duty Pants
[ ] Poncho, Rain Clothing, Bivi-Poncho, Bivanorak or Fjellduk
[ ] Hiking Boots
[ ] 2 pair of Extra socks
[ ] Watch with a button compass on the wrist band
[ ] One or Two Water Bottles (Nalgene, Klean Kanteen, Camelback or SIGG)
[ ] Water Bladder for your backpack; Camelback, Nalgene or similar system.
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Water Purification Filter
[ ] Freeze Dried Rations or Meals Ready to Eat (MRE:s). Minimum 6 meals for 72 hours
[ ] Powerbars, Flapjack, Beef jerky, Trail mix or other snacks
[ ] Tea, Coffee, Sugar and Powdered milk
[ ] Salt and Pepper
[ ] Stove: Multi Fuel Stove, Kelly Kettle, Trangia, Ebsit, Optimus Crux Lite or Jetboil
[ ] Fuel for your Stove
[ ] Cooking Vessels
[ ] Spork (Or Knife, Fork and Spoon)
[ ] Cup and Plate
[ ] Steel Wool, Mop and Washing Up Liquid (I recommend Fairy)
[ ] P-38 Can Opener
[ ] Map
[ ] Waterproof container for map
[ ] Compass
[ ] Cash or Gold/Silver
[ ] Passport and Immunization Record Card
[ ] Notebook and Pen
[ ] Kwikpoint
[ ] 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
[ ] First Aid Kit
[ ] Blister Kit
[ ] Sunglasses