For this post, I will be comparing the Prep Store’s Elite Survival Bug out Bag against my Bug out Bag. Personally, I believe that the best bug out bags are the ones you build yourself. However, to be certain, I will use the Essential Survival Spreadsheet, to determine each bags essential score.
Using the spreadsheet will separate the essential value of the contents, of each BoB, in different tasks and environments. So, we’ll see the ‘must have’ things and the things that are ‘nice to have’. For this bug out bag spreadsheet, I will score each item in the following categories:
Essential Score – Survival Task:
Water (5pts)– score if the item can assist in creating water or finding and carrying water.
Fire/Heat (4pts) – score if the item can create fire or assist, such as Tinder. Also if the item can provide heat, such as a Heat Blanket.
Shelter (4pts) – Score if the item can provide shelter, like a tent or Poncho and if can assist with shelter construction. Cordage, would be an example of that assistance, likewise for tools, such as a knife.
Food (3pts)– Score if the item can be eaten, Rations for example, or assist in obtaining something to eat. A fishing kit or slingshot are good examples of assistance with food.
Medical (10pts) – Score if the item provides a medical use, such as bandages or even tweezers and knives.
Navigation (5pts) – Score if the item can show directions, such as a compass and GPS and to a lesser extent, a flashlight.
Signal (5pts) – Score if the item can provide a method to signal rescuers, like a signal mirror and also fire lighting tools, like matches.
Essential Score – Survival Environment: 1 point for each environment that the item can be used in.
Bug Out Bag – Useful Score
One point for each category that an item scores in, will also be awarded for usefulness. As a result of using a spreadsheet to review each item in this way, you will reveal the true usefulness of your gear. Also, it will identify items with multiple uses, which will help manage your pack weight by eliminating surplus items.
Is Buying Better Than Building a Bug Out Bag?
Several reasons exist for people wanting to buy a pre made BoB, being short on time amongst them. I think it would be unlikely that a pre made BoB would satisfy all of your needs but some do offer a great head start. The Prep Store’s elite Bug out Bag, at first glance looks to be that, a good head start.
We won’t know how good this bag is until will break down its contents for closer examination of their usefulness.
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag Contents:
Water Filter Straw
Water Filter Bottle
Micro Water Filter Pump
2.5 Liter Water Bladder
2 Gallon Water Container
One Person Tent
Large Mosquito Net
10 Piece Cooking Set
Hand Chain Saw
Folding Solar Charger
Maybe include some battery options too
Power Bank Lamp w/Emergency Beacon
Two Way Ham Radio
3 in 1 Solar Fan
70+ Piece First Aid Kit
Survival Tip Playing Cards
Pad and Pen
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag – Survival Items
The first category to look at with any emergency kit, is what gear is included for an emergency! The Prep Store’s BoB is designed around a Hurricane aftermath survival situation and appears to be pretty well packed. So, let’s start with the basic non negotiable survival items, that you need as a minimum to improve your chances.
These are the basic items, I have also shown them as Bold in the contents list above:
Water Filter Straw, bottle or Pump. If I had a choice of only one of the three, I would take the filtered bottle.
Skinning knife as a minimum
First aid kit, assuming that it has a heat blanket in there
Most experts consider these items to be the bare basics for survival and possibly a few other items as well. As far as these items being useful, especially after a Hurricane, I would say the Prep Store is on track here. Although, their contents list didn’t include a signal mirror, I will assume that the compass has one and add it to the spreadsheet.
The Prep Store Elite Bug Out Bag – Personal Items
Beyond those basic items, the remaining items are mostly for personal comfort, with the exception of the gear for rescue. For example, the Prep Store have included for rescue, a Ham radio and a lamp with an emergency beacon. Also, a solar flashlight and of course a Ferro rod to light a signal fire if need be, is all included in their kit.
So far, all of those basic survival items, don’t take up a lot of room in your bag. Therefore, all the remaining space is for personal gear, such as clothes and any other comforts you desire. For instance, the Prep Store has included a 10 piece cooking set, instead of just a couple of mess tins!
All up, the Prep Store’s Bug out Bag, has personal items specifically aimed at surviving after a Hurricane. And if you keep that in mind when you look over the contents, I would say they got it right. All of those items you would find useful in such a disaster scenario.
Essential Score Spreadsheet
Ok, the results are in, both Bug out Bags have had all of their respective contents added to the spreadsheet:
Prep Store – Elite Hurricane Survival Bug out Bag:
That’s lower than I thought it would score
My Bug out Bag:
Big difference between the two bags
Access to the Bug out Bag spreadsheet is for subscribers to Essential survival only. There are no ads or other offers and annoying emails when you subscribe, as I want to build a community of essential survival experts. So, go ahead and subscribe and enjoy all the spreadsheets for free, thanks.
Essential Score Results
That is a pretty big gap between the two bags and it mostly comes down to the personal items. However, some of the score difference is caused by a lack of backup’s for essential survival items. Things like fire lighting could’ve been covered better. For example, just with more back up options to the Ferro rod, the Prep Store bag would’ve scored much higher.
The inclusion of personal items in your Bug out Bag can hurt the essential score in two ways. One, the items don’t have versatility or offer any benefit to your survival. Two, the personal items are large and take up a lot of packing space at the expense of back up essential items.
It’s a bit of both cases for the Prep Store bag; large items that don’t contribute to your survival. The solar power fan for example. However, to be honest, this bag is just a few items short of scoring up near my BoB, if you can fit them in?
It’s All About the Bag
If you read the feedback section in the Amazon link, you’ll see that the Prep Store bag is packed solid. They do say that there is some room for spare clothing but the bag must be packed in a specific way. Which means getting stuff in and out of this bag would be a nightmare!
In my previous posts on BoB’s, I made it clear that the choice of bag is critical to building a good kit. One of the critical points, was to have a bag where you can easily attach things to it. However, the Prep Store bag seems to lack this ability and they’ve packed the tent and everything else inside the bag.
By doing that, they’ve made it difficult to gain easy access to the contents and repacking would be like a jigsaw puzzle. So, in my opinion, the Prep Store kit’s contents are quite good but they’re all just stuffed into a bag. And for me that’s a deal breaker for a kit, I like things better organized and easier to use.
Built for Storms and Survival
While my BoB was constructed for a wetlands bug out, with some Urban interaction, their bag is built for storms. In particular, after the storm has passed and your life has been blown away with it. And I think they’ve done a good job assembling their bag for that purpose, even though it scored below my bag.
The slant towards Hurricane survival probably cost them some essential points but they are not that far off mine. As I said, a few more items and they would be right up there but even without them, it’s still a kit you can survive with. And if you’re personal survival scenario includes Hurricanes, then maybe this bag is the right one for you.
How to Find the Best Bug Out Bag to Buy?
As well as breaking down and evaluating the contents of pre made kits, make sure you do the same with your situation. Figuring out exactly what it is that you need to survive, will dictate the contents of your BoB. And if surviving after a Hurricane is part of your situation, then pre made kits like this will work.
You can also create your own spreadsheets to compare contents, like I did, or read survival website reviews. Like you are now. However, the most telling information sometimes comes from the feedback and questions section. I find that Amazon do this pretty well and you can find out about hidden problems in advance of purchase.
Options to Build
If you’re like me and have issues with some parts of a bag, like the Prep Store’s kit, you can build your own version. Maybe use their exact contents but find smaller, easier to pack items and a different and more versatile bag. Whichever way you go, always look for versatility in your choice of gear and its essential survival value to you.
The search for Bug out Bag comparisons will continue in future posts, thanks for reading!
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In this post, I will show you how to make your own awesome Bug out Bag and organize its contents. So, in the previous post, we looked at building the 5 core survival kits in your BoB. And by building these kits as shown, you will already get a high level of organization when packing your gear.
As a result of that, you will come to appreciate this organized structure of your kits. And you definitely will, every time you need to access your BoB for gear, which can be a lot. So, while it would be nice to have frequently used gear, easily accessible in your Bug out Bag. That is not always the case, as the weight of the individual kits must be considered first.
Packing for Endurance
Therefore, the way you make your Bug out Bag has an effect on many levels and not only on accessing gear. The most important factor, is being able to comfortably carry the load over distance. As you can see from simple the image above, the heaviest items are closest to the body and shoulder blades.
Here again, the selection of your Bug out Bag will be critical in providing you with versatility in managing the weight. For example, it’s not just the weight of the gear, it’s also about stopping it from moving around. The constant shifting weight, will require you to expend more energy balancing yourself than necessary.
As a result, the Bug out Bag you choose for the build, needs to accommodate this with its design of straps and loops. Being able to tighten down the pack or remove sections to stabilize the weight, is a must. Also, eliminating the shifting weight will keep stress off of the stitching of seams and other fasteners on your bag.
Start Building Your Bug out Bag
Similar one to my bag
For this post I will use Amazon links to show you the products I chose for my Bug out Bag build. Clicking on the links will show you the product information only and nothing will be added to your cart.
I’m not even saying that you should buy these products but rather that these are the products I actually purchased or wouldn’t purchase. You can use the links to view my choices in better detail and also similar alternative options.
Just so you’re aware, if you do purchase though these links, Amazon will pay Essential Survival a small commission for that sale but even just clicking on the links is helpful, so thanks in advance if you do.
Nice bag but too small
Try to find a bag with a detachable smaller bag
Make a Bug Out Bag That’s a Survivor
This Bug out Bag is made from waterproof materials but I doubt it would be a totally waterproof bag. As a result, you need to add to this bag to create a waterproof section for items at risk from water damage. When you’re bugging out in the wilderness, the chance of a splashdown is a lot higher.
It could be a heavy downpour, that soaks your bag and gear or even having to cross a river. Whatever the reason is, you need to have a guaranteed waterproof section in your Bug out Bag. That could be done as cheaply as a heavy duty garbage bag or even individual zip lock bags for your gear.
However, this is a bag for a survivor and plastic garbage bags are just not good enough for waterproofing. It is for this reason that I purchased a smaller Dry Bag, to act as a waterproof backpack liner. All of the gear that you want to stay dry can be packed and sealed inside your Dry Bag.
Same brand as mine but in a twin pack
Better quality and comes with a Hydro pack
Load Up Your Pre Made Kits into Your BoB
Once you have your Dry Bag filled up and sealed, you can slide the heaviest kits into position. And the two of the heaviest kits are the Multifunction shovel and the urban kit, weighing 1.5kgs each. The shovel is thin in profile and can fit in comfortably between the Dry Bag and your lower back area. And the Urban kit fits nicely above that and sits nearer to the top of the Bug out Bag and your shoulders.
The Dry Bag, Urban kit and Multifunction shovel, make up over half of the entire weight of the bag. So, packing it this way has put over half of the weight in the sweet spot for carrying it. As a result of this, the remaining gear can be stored where it is most convenient for access.
You can do this now because the remining kits are all under 500g and are unlikely to affect the balance. In reality, the only remaining space in the rear compartment is above the rolled up top of the Dry Bag. So, I packed the spare footwear and goggles in there and they filled the rear section almost completely. However, there was still enough room to slip in the Hybrid knife and some flares or any other similar shaped object you want.
Lightweight Gear to the Front
Now that the rear compartment is full of the heaviest of your gear, you can look to the front compartment next. This area is reserved for your lightweight gear, no matter how infrequently you need to access it. The remaining bulky items to fit in here are the Poncho and First Aid/Toiletries kit.
Depending on the bag you choose, to build your bug out bag with, will determine how much spare space you have at this point. For instance, my bag still has two small external bags to fill as yet. In the front compartment, I fitted the Poncho, First Aid/Toiletries kit. And I managed to fit a folding bucket, gloves and a bandana in there afterwards.
Try to find equipment that can do many things, rather than just for one purpose. The Poncho that converts into a shelter is a perfect example of this kind of versatility. Don’t pack anything that cannot be used in a multiple of different ways. Again, a Bandana can provide shade, water filtration, tinder, bandage…
Can make a shelter from my choice
Have to improvise with this one
Other brands can make a shelter too
Frequently Accessed Areas
With any Bug out Bag, there are always some items that you use more than the others. It’s for this reason I have designated the last two external pockets on my BoB for those items. On the right hand side is the fire staring kit and the left side holds the water bottle and head lamp. There is plenty of space to fit in a compass, maps or whatever item you are using the most at the time.
When I pack a Bug out Bag, I follow the compass points to place the items in the bag. For example, assuming the bag is lying face up on its back, then South or the back/bottom of the bag, is the section for the heaviest items. While above them is North and the lightest items. East has the Sun rise and the fire/warmth kit and West, with the setting Sun, has the torch and water.
That just helps me remember where the hell everything is packed. I’ve also seen colour coded ribbons and zip ties attached to the zipper for this purpose as well. However, keeping your gear in a few, small specialized kits helps with this too.
Sorry, This Bug Out Bag is Full
That’s all the gear I wanted to pack and there’s still some room to spare for small items. Only items like a flare or clothing, like socks, will pack easily at this stage of your Bug out Bag build. For instance, I fitted a half used roll of duct tape in, as the full roll is too big and heavy. However, there is some other gear that you may wish to attach to the outside, such as a tent. Unless you have a cabin or other permanent structure to bug out in, you’re going to need more than just a Poncho.
Fortunately, my bag of choice has plenty of loops and straps to attach a bed roll or tent to the outside of the bag. I have options to lash bedding to the top of the bag, sitting behind my neck or tied on below the 72 hour kit. As these items are usually fairly lightweight, that where ever you tie it, won’t greatly affect the balance of your pack.
Great bed but it weighs in at 32 lbs, the entire BoB weighs 28 lbs
Even better…if you’re carrying it for me
6 lbs is more like it and bug out with family
For the one man bug out
One each for the family bug out members
Only 3 lbs
Personal Choices for Products
I didn’t purchase any of these tents, the links above are examples of getting it right and getting it wrong. For what it’s worth, if I was to buy any of them, it would be the Coleman 2 person. The price and design are good and a 2 person sized tent, is really the perfect size for 1 person.
When you get down to the size of a one man tent, it is hard and unwise to recommend any one tent to purchase. As I have said previously, things like this are a personal choice for you to make. For example, I don’t think I could physically fit into some of those single man Bivi’s, not comfortably anyway.
And they look like a coffin! These are just two of the problems other people may have with your recommendation to buy a personal item. Which is why my recommendations are about physical size and the practicality of the items. So, if I were to recommend you to buy a tent, it should be around the size and weight of the Coleman 2 person above.
Even if you have a family to bug out with, you’re not going to carry a family sized tent very far. Some of those tents come in a bag with wheels attached to manage the weight! In reality, you may need to buy several smaller tents to provide shelter for all of your family members.
The last items to deal with are the Misc items that you may think worthy of packing in your BoB. They could include things like a sewing kit and a fishing kit or even a bottle opener, if you can’t find one on your tools! Whatever your misc items are, keep up the style of making a small kit or container to store them in. Then attach a small bag to the outside of your BoB to hold these misc item kits, keep them out of the main compartments.
Urban/Wilderness Bug out Bag Weigh In
That’s heavier than I wanted but right around where I thought it would be, especially with an Urban kit inside. You could instantly remove 1.5kgs from the total by removing the Urban kit and just take a multitool instead. There is of course many variables and options you can take with your gear, to lower the total weight.
However, as my bag has been packed correctly, that makes it no problem to carry on my back at this weight. It actually sits quite comfortably on my shoulders, with the weight close to my natural centre of gravity. As a result, a lot of the pack’s weight is transferred through the hips, rather than on the shoulders alone. All of your choices with your bag, will come into play when you finally get to strap it on your back, full of gear.
Survival Fitness in a Bug Out Bag
So good is this bag’s set up, that I could add 3 more kilos and still comfortably manage that size load. And managing the weight is this reason you should choose a bag like this, with its detachable pieces and individual kits. For example, to better distribute the weight over a long journey or adapt to changing scenarios:
Adaptability built into your Bug out Bag
you can detach the 72 hr kit and sling it diagonally across your shoulders and tighten to your chest. Instantly transferring almost 2 kgs to the front, to help balance the weight on your back.
Smaller bags attached to your BoB or packed inside, can also be transferred to your belt or hung off the 72 hr kit in front. There is a spare belt inside this BoB for this purpose. You could also detach the bags and stash them in your pants or jacket pockets to distribute weight.
In a complete SHTF scenario, you can discard the entire BoB and then pack or attach gear/bags to the 72 hr bag and travel super light.
In a scenario where the main bags construction fails, such as a strap tearing off. You can transfer your essential items into the Drybag back pack and discard the damaged main bag.
The Drybag, if sealed correctly, will keep you and the bag afloat for quite a while.
Break the BoB down to a more Urban low profile style bag, so as to not attract attention in populated areas. The discarded sections of your BoB can be packed in your Drybag and stashed in the woods until you return.
Empty out your Drybag contents and fill with water from your source. Then line the base ad walls of the water filled Drybag with thick green foliage. You can then carefully lower stones heated by your fire into the water filled bag, until the water is nice and warm. Lower in enough hot stones to boil the water and sterilize. Or, you can use your mess tin and scoop out the water for a 15 litre hot bath in the wild! If you have a suitable tube, you can hang the bag up high and siphon the water out, to hose your filthy self down!
This BoB is Doing its Job!
As I have said in previous posts, your bag needs to inspire you to want to grab it and go! And this bag is doing it for me but mostly because I built it for the things I wanted it to do. Which I think is a better kind of satisfaction, over just buying a pre made BoB online. So rather than just push products on to you. I wanted to really show you the kind of products you need and focus on their function and versatility.
How Do You Know What Makes a Good Bug Out Bag?
I know that this Bug out Bag is good and I know it because I love it! It fits everything I need, comfortable to carry and makes me want to go trekking in the woods. And I know it will be good for other people too, because they built it for their situation, that they planned for. So, while I will provide a list of the contents of my BoB, they are not necessarily the list for your BoB.
However, I will highlight the items on my list that are non-negotiable and should be packed in every Bug out Bag. Whatever other gear that you wish to pack, beside those essential items, is up to you and what you can carry. As long as you stick to the principals of your gear selection and keep it versatile and useful to your situation.
The only true way to know if it’s a good BoB, is to go out and use it as it was intended. No doubt many changes will be needed and refined to your set up but your BoB will get fitter every time. Another way that I can determine the quality of my BoB set up, is to score online competitors against mine in a spreadsheet.
For subscribers to Essential Survival, they will be able to access these spreadsheets and use them for their own Bug out Bag builds.
Wilderness-Urban Bug Out Bag Contents
Free PDF list of my Bug out Bags final checklist of contents:
BoB Essential Score checklist spreadsheet for subscribers:
Total score – 1034 pts – Essential score – 837 pts. That’s a great baseline score to use against the available online Bug out Bag kits. Look out for those future posts! It also shows that my BoB is loaded with essential gear and only a small amount of non essential. So, try putting your BoB contents into the spreadsheet and see how you go against mine.
Handing Over the Keys to Your Build
I’m not suggesting that my contents should be your contents. However, the essential items on the spreadsheet, those that scored 15+, should be in your BoB. And almost all of them should be packed into a smaller detachable kit, so that you’re never exposed without any gear.
In the end, you might choose different tools and gear than mine but you should focus on the keys to the build instead. Try to incorporate these key elements with your bug out bag build and gear selection:
Versatility – Where possible, find and pack tools and gear that can perform many functions other than their primary use. Add to the bag with things like the Dry bag liner to again increase versatility and survivability.
Function – Build and pack your gear so that it will function to make things easy to use/find in your BoB. Dividing gear into smaller kits helps greatly with finding things in your pack and to redistribute weight if needed.
Adaptability – Construct your BoB to adapt in multiple scenarios, that a survival situation may dish up. You should be able to break your bag down into many bags, to overcome the ever changing conditions in the wild.
Hope this was helpful and thanks for reading! More to come on Bug out Bags in the future…
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What Items Should Be in a Bug Out Bag? – Continued
This “How to Make Your Own Bug out Bag” post, follows on from the previous post “What should you pack in a Bug out Bag“. You should read that post first, if not, read on to see how to build the core components of the ultimate Bug out Bag.
Previously, we finished with these four basic areas that you’ll need to allow space for. In this post, we will look at building each of these kits and together they will become the integral parts of your Bug out Bag. To help with packing your BoB later on, try to use soft bags or containers to make these kits.
72 hour survival kit – For emergency wilderness survival needs
Urban survival kit – For Urban survival environments
Personal space – For personal items such as valuables and other non essential survival items
First aid kit/Toiletries/Medications – Personal hygiene and medicine as well as a more extensive first aid kit and supplies.
The most important of all of these kits, is the 72 hour kit, as it has the basics for your survival covered. If you have to lighten your load for some reason, then the 72 hour kit is the one to keep and throw the rest. It’s for this reason you need to have a detachable 72 hour kit, when carrying a Bug out Bag. (or BoB for short)
For this kit, you’re building a trimmed down 72 hour kit, so it can either attach to the outside or go inside your bug out bag. As a further result, some of the items normally found in a 72 hour kit, will have to be stored separately.
For my BoB, I chose to have the kit attach to the outside, to primarily save on packing space inside.
Size and Weight
This is a kit that’s supposed to be small and portable, while still carrying a decent amount of gear. It also needs to fit in with the Bug out Bag you choose and preferably attach to the outside of it. Overall, the bag can be whatever type you want but it has to be separable from your BoB as a minimum.
A list of the reduced kit contents and in their survival categories:
Small box of tinder wads
2 x waterproof dry ration tubes – tea or coffee, powdered soup etc.
Knife and Spork
Water Purification tabs x 20
Compass x 2
2 x compression Bandages, 1 x Triangular Bandage
Multiple Wound Clot dressings and gauzes, Band-Aids
12 Feet of Seat Belt Material
Paracord (wrapped around knife handle)
Keep This Kit Simple
There is always the temptation, to just want to pack in one more thing, that you think you need. That is how your kit ends up too big and heavy to properly perform its role. Make sure you only pack essential items in this kit and keep it lightweight, max 2kgs is a good guide.
As you can see from the list and photos, that even though it is a reduced kit, the essentials are still covered. You now have a list to build a lightweight and detachable 72 hour kit for your Bug out Bag. And with the essentials for your survival taken care of, you can move on to the next kit to build.
#2 – Urban Survival Kit for a Bug Out Bag
When making your own Bug out Bag, you have the ability to tailor the contents to suit you. Another environment to be considered for your BoB, are the ever growing Urban areas. Again, a simple and small kit added to your BoB should cover your urban survival needs.
It’s not like you would be bugging out in the city but rather away from the crowd. Although, you would also be unlikely to bug out into the middle of nowhere and at least stay closer to civilization. You may even need to make regular forays from your bug out location into the city, to replenish your supplies.
There are many ways you might come across an urban environment and therefore, you will need to deal with urban problems. Unfortunately, most of those urban problems you will be unable to make a kit for. Not without potentially falling foul of the law yourself for carrying weapons, even if for your own survival.
Fortunately, you want to avoid that sort of confrontation and move in and out of urban areas as quickly as possible. Move in, keep a low profile and blend in, do your business and move back out to your bug out site. That’s about as much interaction that you’d want with urban areas and best they are avoided.
A Small Kit for Small Interactions
Out in the wild, you carry tools suited to the environment, such as a Parang or even your knife. So, it makes sense to have a few tools, packed in your BoB, to help deal with urban environments. Some of the urban challenges, will be things like mechanical fixings or locks, barring your way. You may be required to also pry things up or open, to potentially seek refuge from rioters or other criminals.
Keep in mind, that a good multitool can cover a lot of these urban problems and tool kits are usually heavy items. Therefore, keep the tools small and as light as possible but most of all, you need to be realistic about the tools you’re packing. Huge spanners or demolition hammers are just too much of a burden to carry in your pack all the time.
Keep your Bug Out Bag Lightweight and Local
Unless your emergency plan requires you to take a large and heavy tool, you will need to pack only small tools. For instance, 12mm spanners are the max size you can entertain packing in your BoB. Above this size the spanners start to get longer and heavier, to undo the larger sized nuts.
The most common nut size you’re likely to come across, are around the 5-10mm size. Probably an 8mm nut is the most common and it’s usually the 8mm socket that is the only one missing from your socket set! In any case, you will pack the tools that suit your local urban environment and which will have the most use to you.
There are endless versions of this kit that you can make and you need to pack the tools that reflect your skill level. For example, my urban survival kit includes a lock pick set. Which unless you know how to use a particular tool like that, you wouldn’t include it in your kit. So, just make sure you’re not carrying things around that have a low probability of being useful to you.
Urban Survival Kit Contents
The Urban Survival kit for a Bug out Bag will look much different to a stand alone urban kit. This version will need to be very much trimmed down to keep your BoB lightweight. For this kit, you will choose the bag/container first and then fit the tools you want into the bag.
It’s important at this point to keep everything you pack as small as possible. As from now, everything gets packed inside your main bag and space is at a premium. If you want it all to fit, make sure everything is compact in size and useful for your survival.
For my Urban survival kit, I chose two bags or cases that I had in my games cupboard. In a previous life they were for a handheld game console called the ‘PSP’ made by Sony. But they also make a great urban survival kit bag now!
A list of contents for the lock pick tool kit:
Lock pick set
8mm ratchet open/ring spanner
Small pry bar/punch
Cross tool for opening tamper proof water taps
Selection of security and common screw tips
Packing Your Urban Survival Kit
Once you’ve settled on a sensible set of tools for yourself, find a small pouch similar to mine to pack them. There will be a future post on Urban survival kits but it is really up you to decide the best tools for your situation.
Other items that you need, you can add them to the remaining storage space of the main kit bag. For example, you are likely to have phone signal in an urban area. Therefore, a way to recharge the phone battery or any other device makes sense to have.
Some items will work for you in both the urban and wilderness environments, try to pack items with this versatility. These next three items will bring better vision of sketchy terrain and the streets ahead.
Add these items to the list for the urban kit:
2 x small knives
1 x small serrated blade
Another $40 of coins in a roll
Spring loaded punch
Hex key set
2 x tracking devices
That’s about as heavy as you want this kit to be, however, a max of 2kgs will probably be acceptable. As there is a huge local variance with urban areas and cultures, even law enforcement, this kit will look different for everyone.
Some items in this kit will be seen as weapons and in other places maybe not. So, make your kit local and fit for purpose and matching your skill levels in its use. Keeping the kit small, lightweight, local and useful, are the only things to focus on when building this kit.
Personal Space in Your Bug Out Bag
Not only is it good general practice, to pack small and light gear, it’ll also give you the maximum personal space possible. You can use this space to pack extra clothing, blankets, footwear, food and other items. You may also be bugging out with your entire life savings with you!
#3 – Valuables Survival kit
Normally, your valuables survival kit is stored near your valuables, in a secure location around your home. If the time comes and you need to go, you can grab the kit and quickly fill it with your riches. With your pre planning, all your valuables will fit in the kit and your Bug out Bag will have space for the valuables kit allocated.
Your valuables kit will obviously be tailored to suit your choice of valuables. For example, all of your wealth might be in the form of cards and cash or jewels and gold. Whatever form it is in, you need to find the appropriate container, bag or pouch that suits your needs.
For this Bug out Bag version, I chose a small valuables pouch that can be worn discreetly on the body. The container that you choose will suit your valuables, whatever they may be. However, the size and weight of your valuables kit needs to work with the rest of your BoB gear.
Also, to help with packing, try to contain your valuables in a soft bag, rather than a rigid lock box. If you do need a steel box, for all your gold bars, just make sure that the box can be used in a survival situation. For example, to be able to use the steel box to boil some water to survive another few hours, toss the gold aside.
People might consider other items as being valuable, like a spare pair of shoes or even their cell phone. What makes building your own Bug out Bag worthwhile, is that you can decide what is valuable and how much space you need for it. Whereas, some ready made BoB’s are jammed packed full of survival gear and leave little room for personal needs.
I added some alternative footwear for wetland areas, which I expect to encounter along my escape route. Also some protective eyewear will come in handy for me and I have the space for it. There is plenty of room for rations or even food, such as a dozen cans of Tuna if you like.
Food is a Personal Thing
While you’re building your Bug out Bag, some consideration needs to be taken for food or rations. Unless, of course food is abundant around your bug out location, that you can either purchase or hunt for. Otherwise, you’re hauling your own food supplies in your BoB, sacrificing personal packing space.
This example of a Bug out Bag, is for a wilderness/urban environment and is packed with gear for such. Which suggests that you would use this bag to bug out in the woods but still have access to urban areas for supplies. So, in this Bug out Bag version, there is not much need for space to pack food or rations.
If you were to pack food, try to select long lasting, single serve and securely packaged products. For my bag, I would choose canned Tuna, not only because I like Tuna but it meets all the other criteria. 12 x 100g cans of Tuna, duct taped into rolls of 6 cans each, fits perfectly at the base of my BoB.
Again, Planning is Important
When heading off camping with your family, a tremendous amount of planning for water and food supply is undertaken. So, unless your plan to bug out includes sitting cold and hungry in the woods, then planning for food is paramount.
Bugging out to escape any threat is advisable. However, without the proper provisions for food and water, you’ll be starved back out into the open in no time. The most preferred option, is that you planned your bug out location correctly. For example, your location of choice, has access to abundant fresh water and also to a reliable food supply.
Which of course means you don’t have to carry it with you or be forced to abandon your location to find it. Clearly, you only have a few options here; you carry, purchase or find your essential water and food.
Food and Water are Always Important
Therefore, if you do intend to carry provisions, be prepared for the extra weight and loss of packing space. Potentially, even having to remove some of your pre made kits to replace with food. Although, if your plan includes purchasing food, you may need to expand your Urban kit, for more trips into town.
If your intent is to hunt and forage for your food, then you will need to carry the tools for that. An example of that could be the AR 7 survival rifle, covered in a previous post, or any other compact hunting weapon of choice. If you’re unable to carry a firearm in your BoB, my next choice would be a slingshot or Bow.
Link below to AR 7 post and video:
Choose Your Weapon to Travel Light
Whatever your weapon of choice, make sure it’s collapsible or compact enough to attach to the outside of your BoB. The AR 7 can be lashed to the bag, as can a slingshot, Bow or Crossbow and any ammo, store in an external pouch. It’s for this reason, that you choose a bag with ample loops and attachment options on the external.
The ultimate choice for a compact weapon, when you can’t carry a rifle.
Similar but cheaper
More complex but if you can make it compact enough to carry, then it works.
Try to not over complicate things
Lastly, I used personal space for spare clothing, radio’s, GPS, weather station, a Gameboy and another power bank. I have a little bit of personal space left over, which I could fill with spare socks and the valuables pouch. Although, have some consideration for boredom and how you will keep yourself occupied while bugging out. I put in a Gameboy console and you can even throw in some playing cards, whatever keeps you entertained.
#4 – First Aid and Toiletries Kit
This kit has more purpose than just holding your toothpaste, it is your daily go to kit. Whether it’s for first aid or toiletries, this kit is your main stash and the one to be used every day. This will prevent you from raiding your 72 hour kit or worse, raiding your pocket survival kit.
It is important that those two kits remained fully stocked, for use in an emergency situation only. You will carry the #4 kit to primarily prevent you from needing to do that and for organized, easy access to everyday items. When choosing your bag for this kit, keep in mind the frequent daily access you will require from this bag.
Basically, you want a bag that can be opened up or laid out, to gain better access to the contents. With that said, all the contents need to remain in place when you do open the bag up. I found a cheap bag at an army surplus outlet that works perfectly, try to look for these qualities with your version.
Not only will this kit hold common Band Aids and more advanced dressings but also personal medical and hygiene items. That could be things like Ventolin or high blood pressure tablets or even dental floss and mouthwash. So, basically make a first aid kit and add your personal needs to it and don’t forget toilet paper!
This kit does the job of preventing you from consuming vital supplies from your other survival kits. As well as, providing easy access to your most used hygiene items and emergency first aid gear. I recommend that you build one more kit and for similar reasons as this kit is built.
#5 – Fire Starting Kit
This kit is pretty self explanatory, as it holds ready to go fire lighting tools, such as lighters and tinder. This will again stop you from using the provisions in your survival kits, when you’re just around the campsite. Both the #4 and #5 kit should be packed in your BoB, so that they’re easily and frequently accessible.
Putting it All Together
Finally, out of these 5 kits, only #2 and #3 kits are optional or interchangeable for other kits. For instance, you may need a cold weather kit, instead of an urban kit or valuables kit. The #1, #4 and #5 kits, are good for all environments and therefore are the mainstays of your Bug out Bag.
It doesn’t matter what you replace the optional kits with or not replace at all, as long as you have the other 3 kits. I will post in the future on some ideas for these optional kits for your Bug out Bag.
We now have a list of the core items that make up a Bug out Bag and sorted them into organized kits. In the next post, I will show you how your Bug out Bag gets built and the bag I chose for mine. Also, by adding some versatility I will increase the survivability of the Bug out Bag itself.
I will put all of the Bug out Bag’s contents into a spreadsheet and find out the essential score for my BoB. We can then use that score to compare mine to other pre made BoB’s available online. So, I look forward to the challengers taking on my Bug out Bag build, in future posts.
This is the second post in the Bug out Bag (BoB) series, read this post first before reading on. To find out what you should pack in a Bug out Bag, you need to know your local environment. And any potential emergency situations you may face. For instance, you may live in a forest area and life threatening fires are a reality for you every summer. With that knowledge you can add contents to your Bug out Bag that will deal specifically with your local reality.
Depending on what that reality is, you may need to have a storage space inside your BoB to deal with it. For example, it could be a face respirator or other bulky piece of emergency gear, that you need to survive. It is important that you have settled on your gear/tools before you build a bag to hold it all!
Unique personal space aside, every BoB must have a space dedicated to the essentials for survival. So, to really determine what should you pack in a bug out bag, you’re going to have to make a few decisions.
What Should You Pack in a Bug out Bag – The Essential Contents
When it comes to the essentials for survival, the decision to include them has already been made. These are the essential items that unquestioningly should be packed in a Bug out Bag. To make this really simple, you need to break it down into two categories; essential and non essential. Firstly, the essential gear that you need to pack in a Bug Out Bag (BoB) is pretty straight forward. In fact, I have already covered these contents in the 72 Hour Survival Kit post.
Secondly, the spare space remaining after the essentials, is for your personal equipment and comfort. How much spare space you have will depend on how well it is packed and the bag size you’re willing to carry. To get started, let’s revisit the 72 hour kit and its essential contents.
Pack These in Your Bug out Bag – 72 Hour Survival Kit Contents
Palm axe out
Filtered Drink container
Multifunction shovel in
Note pad and wax pencil
Water Purification Tabs
Zip lock bag
All the basic survival/rescue items covered
To show you what I think the purpose of a 72 hour kit is, I’ll show you a video of what its purpose isn’t. It’s a good video and I like this guy’s style and gear but I think he’s a little confused here. For instance, he says it you need to grab your 72 hour kit and go but it has 3 large bottles of water! He mentions the kit being portable, however, it has a ton of gear and looks anything but portable.
Although, I agree with his choice of gear and their usefulness, there is just too much of it. Again, looking at your own situation and determining a useful selection of this type of emergency gear is essential. As with all of your survival kits, they have to be portable, to be truly useful in an emergency.
The purpose of a Bug out Bag, is to have all these qualities, like the 72 hour kit, packed into one bag. However, balancing what you want to pack and what you can carry, is the biggest challenge.
Some of these items listed above and, in the video, should be removed from the 72 hour kit and packed directly in your Bug out Bag. This will help keep your 72 hour kit smaller and less weighty and therefore more portable. In this way, the 72 hour kit mostly becomes a mobile first aid kit, with other survival gear included.
It’s important that you consider this 72 hour kit as being separate from your BoB and is to include the essential gear only. Ideally, it’s also best if your kit is attached outside of your BoB, to save packing space. This kit will form the wilderness survival component of your Bug out Bag.
If your survival situation deteriorates further and you need to move, you can ditch the larger pack and take the 72 hour kit. It’s small, light and in the worst of conditions, has all the basics for your survival. Keep in mind, that for your survival, this smaller kit is more important than whatever else you pack in the Bug out Bag.
Non Essential Comforts in a BoB
The point I’m trying to make here, is that a dedicated and smaller 72 hour kit will cover all your wilderness survival. That’s it! Your survival outdoors has been taken care of and the space left in your BoB is for whatever else. Obviously, you can now add gear that will help you survive and also thrive in a dangerous environment.
Some examples of what you should pack in your Bug out Bag; extra clothing, footwear and food are some of the nice to have items a BoB can take. There are many choices but some others could be electronics, shelter, tools and communications. Just remember, you’ll be carrying it, so keep it simple and focused on the items that add to your survivability.
Some more of those items may be a poncho, tent, swag, water filter and spare survival consumables, such as food rations. Other items, like toiletries and personal items need their own space too, especially a space for valuables. After all, it’s a Bug out Bag, so you’re bugging out and presumably taking your valuables with you to safety?
Personal Space in a BoB
If bugging out with valuables sounds like something you need to do, then arrange the container, wallet or lock box first. Determining the size of your contents prior to purchasing the bag to carry it in, is a no brainer. There will be a future post on this valuables kit. But for now grab it and pack it in the Bug out Bag with all of your riches inside!
At this stage your Bug out Bag has an outdoors survival kit, a valuables container and space for personal items. Which basically means you can take your money and survive out in the woods, for a short while anyway. What should you pack in a Bug out Bag if your journey is also going through urban areas?
What Should You Pack in an Urban Bug Out Bag?
Survival in an urban environment is less about water/heat/shelter/food and more about homicide/assault/robbery. If you build a BoB to cover those areas you’ll probably end up with arrest/charges/court issues to deal with! Compared to the wilderness, in urban areas there is an abundance of shelter, water and food options.
Assuming society is still somewhat functioning, then money will solve all those urban survival needs. So, building a bag for that, would just look like a wallet with cards and cash? Maybe some tools to unscrew and cut things and a battery wall charger could be useful?
Whatever you decide to pack in your bug out bag, to survive in your local urban environment, pack it into a small kit bag. By building a small urban survival kit and packing it inside your BoB, you’re making it good for the city and the wild environments alike.
What Size is a Bug Out Bag?
When considering the size of the 72 hour kit and urban kit, a small back pack will have little room left. As you’re bugging out, it is safe to assume that you want to take more than just the basics along. Therefore, your BoB will need to be in the mid sized bag range, with options to enlarge.
Taking into account the type of items you’ll need, your bag will need to be strong enough to carry at least 10-15kg. Not only strong but also to be able to carry that sort of weight comfortably on your back. To pack the weight properly in your bug out bag, you will want at least two separate compartments.
Lastly, on the size of the bag, try to keep it no bigger than your own body profile, as in width and height. For instance, the bag should sit no higher than your shoulders and no wider than your back. Obviously, you don’t want your swinging arms colliding with your too wide back pack as you walk.
How Heavy Should a Bug Out Bag Be?
The weight of the bag should be round 10-15% of your own body weight, otherwise you will fatigue too quickly. Unless you train daily carrying a pack above the 15%, I recommend keeping it around the 10% mark. Although, if you want a BoB with great survival environment coverage, then I expect it could weigh up to 13kgs!
In the next post, I will pack a Bug out Bag with survival gear, for the city and the wild, to see the maximum weight you can expect to haul.
Keeping a Low Profile Bag
To give your bag the combined urban and wilderness abilities, you’ll need to have a low profile type bag. Nothing screams “Tourist” more than a large frame back pack, when you are walking through urban areas. The lower the profile the better but it still needs to be large enough to carry all your gear too.
As mentioned previously, having a bag that can breakdown or be added to easily, will help with managing the profile. Also, straps that can be pulled tight and keep the bag close to the body, will help with the shape. Similar profile reducing effect with the chest straps and a waist belt, as well as increasing carrying comfort.
The colour and appearance of the bag is of importance and needs to work in both environments. In the wilderness setting, bright colours work in your favour, for attracting the attention of rescuers. Although, you don’t want to attract any attention, when travelling through an urban environment. Especially considering that you’re bugging out!
Likewise, if you’re bugging out in the wilderness, you still don’t want to attract attention. As a result, bright coloured bags are out and neutral coloured types are the logical choice for a BoB. I went with a wilderness friendly Olive drab colour and because it’s a common colour for backpacks in urban areas as well.
How to Pack a Bug Out Bag?
A recap of what items are inside a BoB:
72 hour survival kit – For emergency wilderness survival needs
Urban survival kit – For Urban survival environments
Personal space – For personal items such as valuables and other non essential survival items
First aid kit/Toiletries/Medications – Personal hygiene and medicine as well as a more extensive first aid kit and supplies.
The next post will focus on how to pack your Bug out Bag, specifically, these smaller kits that make up your BoB. Also, we will determine the best items to carry in these individual survival packs. Together, these kits all form your survival platform and are carried as one in your Bug out Bag.
My need for a bug out bag comes from my building trade and at times not having the right tool for the job. Or trying to find where someone put the right tool for the job, that you desperately need done. Finding the right tool in an emergency can be even more stressful, seconds can feel like minutes.
It makes total sense to gather and pack all of the most essential things, for your survival, into one place. Just as it does with power tools, screws, kitchen cutlery or utensils and so on. However, unlike a bottomless kitchen drawer, overflowing with little used utensils, your BoB needs to be lean.
What’s in a Name
It’s helpful to not get caught up with the name of this type of emergency bag, as it might discourage you of its usefulness. Whether you need a ‘Bug out Bag’, ‘BoB’, Go bag’ or even a ‘Get home’ bag, it should be able to do all those things. However, a lot of people may not see the need to do any of those things and then not prepare an emergency kit at all.
Before my first camping trip as an adult, I put together a bag of survival gear and wondered if it would be useful. By the time that trip ended, I had plenty of answers as to why I would need a Bug out Bag. During that trip, I was in and out of the bag so much that I tore off a zipper and broke one of the clips!
Ok, it was a cheap backpack but I realised the importance of having a one stop bag for survival. As a result, the next time I went camping, I had a new and improved version to take with me. I learned more lessons on each trip and used that experience to build a new one every time.
Why I Need a Bug Out Bag?
As mentioned, I don’t like searching for misplaced gear or tools, at work, camping or especially at home. It’s just a waste of time, searching for things that should’ve been in a place dedicated for them. So, for me, a dedicated bag for survival gear seemed a necessary thing to have.
It really becomes one less thing to think about or have to throw together at the last minute in an emergency. If the situation requires you to immediately get away to safety, you just want to be able to grab a bag and go. Even with a last minute invite to go fishing, your survival bag will be ready and waiting for you.
In either scenario, you can grab your bag and know that you have already thought through its contents. You’ve handpicked and tested every item, which will give you the confidence in sustaining your own life. Most importantly, you can tailor your design and contents to target the most likely scenario you expect to face.
Just thinking about the potential emergency situations you’ll face, will make you that little bit more prepared. That is the fundamental lesson you learn when building your survival kits, especially with the pocket sized kit. If you take the next step, from just thinking and actually build a kit, then your survival chances just skyrocketed!
Before you build your Bug out Bag or Go Bag, put some thought into the gear you’ll want to carry. The size and weight of your contents will choose the bag for you and maybe force you to rethink some of your gear selection.
Versatility is Key to Good Survival Gear
The problem with emergency situations, is that you don’t know what the emergency will be in advance. You can only prepare for the most likely and then add some coverage in other less likely scenarios. To give you versatility with your bag, several specialized kits will need to be contained in the larger one.
As a result of that, your actual bag needs to have its own versatility, to adapt to all possible scenarios. For instance, you need a bag that is not out of place in the woods or in the city environments. That sounds difficult but it’s not and I will show you how I put together my Bug out Bag in the upcoming posts.
What’s the Best Bug Out Bag?
Leaving the physical construction aside for a moment and focusing on the versatility of the bag itself. By that I mean that it can be altered in size and style to suit different circumstances. For example, a bulky military style bag that can be trimmed down to a more urban style and size. Also, that it can be broken down and used separately, to improve carrying ability and reduce fatigue.
The physical construction of the bag will help with this versatility and will need to provide these modular abilities. Therefore, the bag will need loops and other ways to attach gear and also have smaller removable sections. This is aside from the obvious need of quality stitching, materials, buckles and the like.
It Needs to be a Survivor Too!
Even a high priced, high quality bag will break if you don’t treat it well and look after it. My first survival bag, was cheap and I didn’t respect or treat it well and it broke, twice. I bought another cheap bag after that and it practically fell apart during another camping trip. The third bag I purchased was cheap too.
However, before I purchased it, I really looked at the stitching, material, clips and zips and they were good. Ten years later, with proper use and care, they still look good! Although, the bag is not versatile enough and is long overdue for an upgrade and some added survival fitness.
Two areas of the bag’s construction to look out for, is how it functions and adapts, or if you can make it adapt. For an example, the bag should have both a small and larger profile, if changing environmental circumstances require it. Another example could be the lack of waterproofing and if other measures can be taken. Like if adding protection from water damage with other smaller waterproof bags will suffice.
As mentioned, for function, the bag needs to be a heavy hauler and built to break down to smaller components. Most importantly, when you do break it down, you’re not compromising your survival ability. Also, you need to be easily able to add more capacity to your bag, simply by attaching additional external storage options.
The other function you need in your bug out bag, is adjustment, including straps and belts to pull the weight to your body. Also, to keep the load from shifting and unbalancing you while you travel, burning up precious calories.
How Do You Prepare for an Emergency?
Modern buildings are fundamentally designed to function in an emergency situation, such as a fire. This is achieved with extensive planning and studying of the potential emergency scenarios the building may face. Planning and workshopping scenarios in your life, will be the only effective way to plan for an emergency.
Obviously, it’s not possible to cover everything, however, some emergency gear works in a host of scenarios. For example, a well stocked first aid kit will prove to be useful in most emergency situations. Finding versatility with your gear will help you cover a lot more areas of emergency survival with your bug out bag.
Putting Your Plan in to Action
Once you’ve settled on the potential threats you face and the actions that you must take; test it out. Similar to the gear you choose for your survival kits, you have to test them and get used to working with them. No sense choosing an escape route that you have never been down and seen for yourself.
Spending a few hours planning and testing will give you back the precious seconds in an emergency that you need. Similarly, training and education in emergency procedures and techniques, will enable you to act without delay, again saving precious seconds.
Putting It All Together
Now that you’ve settled and planned for your most likely of threats and have chosen the appropriate gear, you can pack it! There is no point choosing the bag before you know what it is going to be carrying or how much it even needs to hold.
Fortunately, with all of your hard work in building the pocket survival kit and 72 hour kit. You’ll already know the essential things that you need to pack in your Bug out Bag. Any other items or space can be personalized towards yourself and the environment you’re expected to be surviving in.
Read these posts for the essential gear to pack inside your Bug Out Bag or Go Bag:
What I need out of my latest version of a Bug out Bag, is versatility and still be able to carry weight. The act of deliberately taking your most valued stuff and moving to another location, no doubt requires a special bag. More space for non essential survival items, such as valuables, need to be catered for in the BoB. Other comforts, never before needed in my Bug out Bag, are now a consideration with a larger sized bag.
What Should You Pack in a Bug Out Bag?
It’s pretty clear that we will all face a potential emergency situation in our lives at some point. If you survive an ordeal without any preparedness on your behalf, then it was just luck that got you through. Not a good strategy in the long run and I recommend that you put together a Bug out Bag.
No matter what size the bag, whatever name you call it or the expensive gear you’re carrying, it will come down to your planning. With proper planning you can increase your chances of survival, even with a smaller bag. The next post will focus on the gear to pack in a Bug out Bag and after that a follow up post on how to pack it. These next posts will show you a versatile Bug Out Bag, that can used in many scenarios and is packed with essential survival gear.
If you already know what gear you need to have inside your EDC bag, then this post will show you how to pack it as well. Just like the survival qualities that your equipment provides, so should the way you pack it all in. This is especially important for the EDC/72 hour survival kit, if you understand it’s true purpose.
EDC Bag Contents:
Filtered Drink container
Note pad and wax pencil
Water Purification Tabs
Zip lock bag
Why Do I Need an EDC Bag?
I will discuss this briefly again, to reinforce the purpose of this kit and why you should think about how it is packed. And it’s not just the EDC Bag that you need to consider but all three survival kits. I will expand on these kits further, as they all work together to build your survival platform.
The Pocket Survival Kit (PSK)
Probably should rename this kit – SHTF kit, because clearly the “Fit has hit the Shan” if you need to open this kit. The contents of this kit are limited in size and quantity and are for when all else is lost. If you still have access to your other kits, then it should never be used for any survival needs. It stays in your pocket until you have nothing else left to rely on.
The Bug Out Bag (BoB)
You can consider this bag to be your moving van, you load it up with all your gear and you move. Even your EDC kit is packed in this bag, along with all your nice to have gear. Like the other kits, the Bug out Bag, has its own features that make it fit for carrying, which I will detail in a future post.
EDC Bag (72 Hour Survival Kit) (3 day kit)
So, if your pocket kit is in your pocket and not to be touched and the BoB is just a pack horse. Where does the 72 hour kit belong in the survival platform? It is in fact your most used kit out of the three, which makes it essential to pack this kit properly. You will access the contents of this bag regularly.
Therefore, if stocks are depleted in your EDC bag, then you replenish them from the spares you carry in the BoB. When you’re ready to move camp, you pile it all back into the BoB and your PSK never left your pocket! It is important that you keep this separation of kit sizes and not pack the wrong things in the wrong places.
Separate Sized Kits for A Reason
For instance, the smaller the kit is, then the more vital and essential the items are for survival. The larger the kit, the more the items are nice to have, rather than essential to live. And the mid sized 72 hour kit is a mix of both kits contents – vital survival equipment and whatever else you can fit.
I say whatever else because it really doesn’t matter what you want to carry in there. So long as you have packed enough of the essential items and don’t make it too heavy to carry. The weight of the three kits is also one of the most critical areas to ensure you get right.
Carrying Weight is Important
The PSK is deliberately small and lightweight, so you’re not inclined to take it out of your pocket. Similarly, the BoB is not so heavy that it prevents you from walking out to safety! And it is the same for the 72 hr kit, it has to be a good size and weight. That way you will not be inclined to leave it behind, when you venture out from camp.
How to Organize Your EDC Bag?
Understand that a EDC bag is used frequently, which means you will be unpacking and packing it quite often. And out in nature, there never is a good spot to unpack your kit to look for something. For instance, you don’t want your sterile bandages rolling around on the forest floor, while you looking for something else!
It’s for this reason that you need to put some fitness into the way you pack this kit. At the same time, whatever you add to your kit, has to add value for carrying the extra weight around. For example, packing your gear into a series of plastic containers will be heavy and not add much to your survivability.
However, sealed plastic containers, tubes or even metal tins, will add some waterproof qualities to your EDC bag. As the likelihood of you taking an unplanned swim is increased, while out foraging for materials and food. Therefore, it is a great idea to make your wilderness EDC bag as waterproof as possible.
The Amazing Zip Lock Bag
I still marvel at how useful a survival item a zip lock bag can be. The zip lock bag scored an impressive 16 pts on the essential survival spreadsheet. And here again it proves how useful it can be and not just with packing your EDC bag.
Obviously, it is great for keeping grouped items together AND making them safe from water damage. Also, you can use the bags to seal and carry food you forage or hunt and keep it fresher. Most importantly, you can load them with green vegetation and extract the water to drink.
For example, you could fill several bags with green leaves and clip them to your BoB, before you start to hike. After a few hours, you can stop and take a drink and replace the foliage before setting off again. You have to get this kind of multiple use out of everything you pack in your survival kits.
Packing your kit this way provides the following:
Keep gear clean and foods fresher
Start a fire with magnification through water filled bag
Extract water through Transpiration of green foliage
Separate gear into easy to pack/unpack groups
How to Pack Your EDC Bag?
With your heavier Bug out Bag, there is definitely a correct way to pack the weight for carrying comfort. However, not so much with the mid sized EDC bag. You just don’t have enough options, to move weight around in the bag and make a difference.
The best you can do, is place hard and heavy items at the base of your bag, such as the mess tins. I placed mine at the base and wrapped in a Beanie, to prevent damaging my zip lock bags. After that, you can place your separate bags on top. And in any order you want, which should fill up most of the main compartment’s space.
Rear Compartment for Tools
The rear pocket on my bag is perfect for all your heavy survival tools and even large enough for a multifunction shovel. Whatever tools or similar objects, if not strapped on to the outside of the bag, should be stored in here.
Personal Space Remaining
Now that you have all your essential gear and tools packed, you can fill up the gaps with your nice to have items. Remember to keep it lightweight though!
What makes a good EDC kit, is not so much the things that go in it but the bag itself. The contents, as you can see from the list, are pretty straightforward and readily available. So, if you want the perfect EDC kit for you, start by finding your perfect bag to carry it all in.
I’m only going to advise you to put in the essential items for survival and to pack them in there efficiently. As a result of this, you will leave yourself with the maximum personal space for your items. And those items I don’t have any advice for you, other than to try make sure they add to your survivability.
However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter because you already have the essentials for survival. So, if you want a gun in your EDC, then pack a gun or more knives or more gear to suit your local weather. Just don’t sacrifice the essentials for the non essential things!
How to Pack a Bug Out Bag?
The next step up from the EDC bag, is the larger pack horse, Bug out Bag and this bag needs to be the toughest of them all. Read the “What should you pack in a bug out bag” post, to see how I waterproofed the contents of that bag and the gear that goes inside.
This post covered a stand-alone EDC bag, as in a kit that could be kept inside your vehicle or similar place. In the BoB post, I will also show how to incorporate the EDC bag with your BoB instead. Effectively making two kits into one!
This post is my latest attempt to find a worthy pre-made survival kit to buy online. As in the previous posts, I will compare the online kits with my own pocket survival kit. I will put each of the kits items in a spreadsheet for comparison and see if the online kits are up to the challenge.
I see a lot of these kits online, the so called 110 in 1 kits, that count a bottle opener as a survival tool! So, today’s victim is the Supology 23 in 1 kit, I chose this kit because it has a heat blanket at least. Interestingly, this kit also comes with a filtered straw, which isn’t all that common to find.
However, these are only two items and we need to assess the essential qualities of the remaining contents. Below is the list of gear for the Supology kit and I will also put them into the spreadsheet to score.
Well, the Supology looked good. Especially with the heat blanket and filtered straw but unfortunately, that was it. The other items, such as the tactical pen, scored low and really wouldn’t be much use in a wilderness survival situation.
This kit is a bit of a strange one, it’s trying to be a wilderness kit and maybe a car survival kit and others. However, the drawstring carry bag is big, mostly for the bulky filtered straw. And that means you can throw in more items to bring up this kit’s essential value. For instance, adding matches, hunting options and a signal mirror, will add 47 pts and move it above the Bear Grylls kit.
Pocket Survival Kit Top Ten V’s My PSK
My PSK Score – 286 – 257 Essential Score
Best Glide ASE – Military Scout
Best Glide ASE – Be Prepared
Pocket Pro Survival Kit
BG Ultimate Survival Kit
Supology 23 in 1
Only a couple more items and the Supology kit would’ve finished much higher
Summary – Kit Size
In the end, this kit is not totally fit for a wilderness survival situation but I think it could work in a vehicle. They probably should market it that way and not include some of the gimmicky wilderness survival gear. Certainly the bag is too big to be a pocket kit, so it must be stored in your Bug out Bag or glovebox.
The reason the contents of a pocket kit are so important, is that they have to fit into a pocket sized container. Sacrifices and omissions are acceptable to get it all to fit and keep it in that important pocket size range. However, when you get as big as the Supology kit is, there should be no sacrifices at all! Everything should be in there and with spares too!
Without the heat blanket and filtered straw, the Supology kit would’ve scored a dismal 73 essential points. You are really going to have to rely on your survival skills, if the Supology is the only survival kit you have. So far so bad for the online kits, I am really surprised they’re all falling short of essential survival.
Summary – Contents
Overall, this is not a terrible kit but it is a little gimmicky and a lot of the contents you might never use. Also, if you’re going to carry a big kit like this, it has to have better contents than this one does. This is the reason I compare all kit sizes to my pocket survival kit. For instance, if I can fit it all into a tiny container, then they should be able to fit much more and of better quality.
In saying that, with the Supology kit, you will light a fire, filter water and stay warm. Those are the immediate essentials for survival covered and then you have a compass and whistle to find rescue. If you do buy a kit like this, then be prepared to add some more gear to make it really survival fit!
Now that you’ve read my thoughts on this kit, check out what other reviewers are saying. And if they give this kit a glowing review, then you know you’re on a sales page and not a survival website!
The search goes on…
Thanks for reading!
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This post follows on from “What are the top 5 survival tools” post. The Multifunction shovel proved to be the number 1 survival tool to carry out of them all. However, due to its size and weight there is only really one pack to carry it in, the Bug out Bag.
In the previous post I also showed the versatility of the shovel and now I want to see what that means for the rest of the survival tools. For example, the shovel proved to be an acceptable tool for chopping into trees, so, do you need to carry an axe as well?
To make a really fit Bug out Bag, you’re going to need to keep the weight down and keep it manageable. There is no point having a Bug out Bag that’s so heavy that you don’t want to carry it anywhere. It’s for this reason I am going to eliminate some of the top 5 tools and as we go, I’ll explain why.
I will use Amazon links, not just because I will earn a commission from Amazon if you purchase. The links do provide the information that I’m trying to convey, mostly the product descriptions and zoomable photos. There is also the related products that Amazon provide which will give you an understanding of the massive variety available. Especially with survival gear.
Also, not always do I recommend you purchase these items, I always advise to investigate before making any purchase. And the Amazon links are great for that purpose, so click through and compare with what is available.
#2 Survival Tool – The Knife
Although the knife didn’t score as high as the multifunction shovel, it doesn’t mean that it is not as important. In fact, the knife, along with the pocket survival kit, make up the main pillars of your survival platform. In other words; you can’t lose your knife! It’s for this reason that your knife stays on your belt and the survival kit stays in your pocket, always.
As your knife is carried separate from your Bug Out Bag, its weight has no relationship to the BoB’s carry weight. That doesn’t mean that you should carry the biggest Rambo like knife you can find. Keep in mind that you have to comfortably carry the weight of your knife all of the time.
How Long Should a Survival Knife Be?
I will write a more detailed post on survival knives in the future, so, I will keep this section to the basics. And the most basic point of a survival knife, is that it needs to be comfortable in YOUR hand. While the blade is the business end of a knife and important, your body only connects to its handle.
For example, my outstretched fingers measure 9.5 inches from the tip of my thumb to the tip of the little finger. So, what feels comfortable to me in the hand, might not feel right to you at all. It is for this reason that I have several knives that I like but when using them I have found issues with the grip.
Something like this simple design is all you need. You can even make your own from an old butchers knife if you like, just keep it to these parameters.
Popular survival knife
In general, if you have a handle of 5 inches, then the blade should also be around 4-5 inches long. This will give you a nice balanced feel and control over the knife, when using it for bush craft. It will also give you an all rounder sized knife, that will perform in the tasks that survival situations can bring.
As I said, an entire post is required for proper knife selection, so, I will leave it there with the No.2 survival tool. The most important point to take away from the above, is the overall length of your survival knife. The reason for this, is that the next tool on the list is an even bigger type of knife.
#3 Survival Tool – The Parang/Machete/Hybrid Knife
These are big, heavy beasts to carry around and chop with all day but they have their place in the wild. Mostly, the environment you’re heading into will demand that you carry one of these but only if you absolutely need to. Something like a jungle with heavy vegetation, will be required to make this truly a useful survival tool to carry.
This type of blade was invented for this very purpose and they are built solely for clearing vegetation. There is no need to carry one if you’re intending to chop up firewood logs with it, that is not what they are designed for. Sure, they will chop up and split kindling like no other blade but so will your survival knife.
Use it Or Lose It
With this category of survival tool, it really is that simple, if you need it, then take it with you. Just make sure that you are going to use it and not lug it around for no reason at all. If the environment required me to have one, then I would definitely choose the Parang style blade.
A Parang is a pleasure to use and with the unique blade design you can get several cutting edges from one. The big belly on the blade destroys vegetation or bones, while the tip and heel can shave and do the finer work. Most importantly, the belly design of the blade protects your knuckles from impact with the surface when chopping.
The Best of Both Worlds – Survival Fitness
Survival fitness theory demands that you have versatility and ingenuity in your survival tool designs. This is the reason why the multifunction shovel scored so highly, as it has both of those qualities in abundance. You may be able to get the same result out of carrying a Hybrid knife design, a knife sized Parang in other words.
I purchased this one
Compare with the straight blades
It makes sense to incorporate the abilities of the Parang design with the useful carrying size of a knife. This way you can have the benefits of the blade but only at the cost of of knife sized weight. For example, if the vegetation suddenly becomes more challenging, you can take out your hybrid knife to use instead.
I especially like to have this option, not only for the easier chopping ability but also the insurance from breakage. You can spare your survival knife some of this heavy duty work and protect it from breakage or dulling the edge. Having the lighter weight Hybrid knife in your Bug Out Bag and ready to go is an option now and mostly due to the multifunction shovel’s abilities.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Versatility and ingenuity with your gear will keep on giving you advantages with their use. In this case, the multifunction shovel’s ability to chop firewood does away with the need of a larger Machete blade. However, there is a hole to fill in the area of clearing vegetation, that the shovel doesn’t cover.
Unless you know you’re heading into a jungle, then carrying a lighter weight Hybrid knife is an option. You may even be able to find a balance between survival knife and Parang that can do it all. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with but I like to have knife insurance and carry a Hybrid as well. Find a Hybrid size that is equal to the cost of carrying it around and its usefulness to your situation.
So far, with the multifunction shovel, knife and Hybrid knife, you have coverage in a lot of areas. Chopping, slashing, skinning and slicing are just some of them, which really puts the axe into question. Typically, these type tools are also heavy, which is the final nail in the coffin for this tool.
The elimination of the axe type tool, is a direct result of the earlier ingenuity of the top three survival tools. This is a good thing! As you are making your Bug Out Bag as fit as can be to carry and with all of your needs covered.
In reality, there are a few variables to the scoring of the Axe on the spreadsheet that could easily lower its score. At its worst case, the axe falls down to the level of the next survival tool on the list, the Rifle. I think at this point it is easy to say goodbye to the axe and make do with the tools you have.
#4 Survival Tool – The Rifle
Obviously, this is not an essential tool to carry for survival but it is a fantastic tool to have! And that is what the Bug Out Bag is for; thriving and not just surviving. If you’re serious enough to build and carry a BoB, then you’re not just heading out there to survive, are you?
In order for you to thrive, then you’re going to need to obtain easy meals for little energy loss. Efficient hunting is the payoff to carrying a firearm, such as a rifle and a lesser extent, a hunting Bow. However, while you have other hunting options, the rifle is unapparelled in providing self defence against a wild animal attack.
Not only does the noise of a shot scare away potential threats, it can also alert rescuers of your location. The rifle also scored in the fire lighting task taking it to 24 pts and with the elimination of the Axe, it now sits at #4.
Size Does Matter
Firearms are a very personal choice but as this is a nice to have survival tool, it needs to be fit. By that I mean, it needs to be lightweight, compact and easy to pack in with your Bug Out Bag. Personally, I would likely go for a small calibre .22 rifle that can be collapsed and packed well.
Depending on where you’re heading and expecting to face in the wild, needs to be considered when selecting your firearm. Make sure it is fit for purpose and you’re not carrying it around for unrealistic reasons. If you do carry a firearm, ensure you comply with all local laws and the law of the land. Hunt responsibly at all times and don’t ruin it for others with bad behaviour and cruel, unethical practices.
My spotting scope:
#5 Survival Tool – Multitool/Torch
Once again, due to the ingenuity of the multifunction shovel, a lot more items on the list are eliminated. Which leaves the Torch and Multitool tied on 15 pts and the #5 survival tool to carry. Both of these tools bring unique capabilities that are welcomed in a survival situation and they pack well.
Multitool for Survival Options
A compact Multitool can provide many tools that a survivor will find useful across a number of survival tasks. If you do decide to carry a multitool, make sure it has a really good set of pliers as the main feature tool. Of all the tools that make up a Multitool, it’s the pliers that will be the most useful to a survivor.
Torch for Peace of Mind
I’m not afraid of the dark at all, just the creatures that come out at night. Certainly, having a torch to signal rescuers is a good thing but it only works at night, when rescue is unlikely. Most of all, a bright light is a great deterrent for animals that prefer night time for hunting.
It may be enough to keep them away from camp or even to help you investigate activity in the dark. You also might find yourself running out of daylight to make camp and be thankful you have a flashlight. Keep in mind, that in a survival situation you’re likely to have your hands full or too busy to hold a torch.
It is for this reason I would go for a head lamp as my torch option and keep my hands free. They are compact and have a good burn time but mostly, the light always points where your eyes are looking! Some also have SOS strobe lights and even different colour light, like red, for preserving your natural night vision.
Cheap hands free light
Keep it simple
Too many lamps
What Are the Top 5 Survival Tools?
After assessing the individual tools and understanding their versatility, we come down to the real top 5 survival tools.
Multifunction Shovel – Covers digging, chopping and has a compass, fire steel, knife/spear, rescue whistle and paracord lanyard. Also, it is a formidable defensive weapon if need be. With hollow handle sections, you could easily pack further survival gear inside. Such as a fishing kit or snare wires and even matches and tinder. This is a great survival tool and well deserving of the #1 spot on the list.
Survival Knife – A must have accessory for a survivor and should never be out of your reach.
Hybrid Knife – Add protection to your survival knife by letting loose with a Hybrid knife on the tough survival jobs.
Survival Rifle – Add protection and enhanced hunting success with a compact survival rifle.
Multitool or Torch – Complete your tool kit with one or both of these complimentary survival tools.
How to Build Your Own Bug Out Bag?
Now you have settled on your survival tool list, you can think about the other items that should be in your BoB. It’s important that you know in advance what tools you want to carry, as they are the heavy items in your bag. Keeping your Bug Out Bag lightweight as possible is as important as what’s inside.
A future post will cover building a BoB and the other essential items that go with these survival tools. Thanks for reading!
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This post follows on from the previous post; “What is the most important survival tool”. At the conclusion of that post we were left with a top 10 survival tool list, which I will now reduce to five. I will also eliminate the Heat Blanket form the top 5, as I have already shown its versatility in other posts.
That gives us a top 5 survival tool list that looks like this:
Multifunction Folding Shovel – 37 pts
Knife – 31 pts
Parang/Machete/Hybrid Knife – 29 pts
Axe/Hatchet/Tomahawk – 28 pts
Rifle/Handgun – 24 pts
What is The Most Versatile Survival Tool?
Topping the list on 37 pts, the multifunction shovel showed a lot of versatility across the following tasks:
Fire lighting/Firewood gathering
No.1 – Multifunction Folding Shovel
The old school army issue folding shovel has been around forever and have always proved to be useful. A standard folding shovel like this, scored a respectable 21 pts in the best survival tools spreadsheet.(Subscriber access only) However, the latest folding shovel designs have included other functions and tools to increase their versatility.
These tools are available online in a staggering array of designs and price points to choose from. Generally, they all have some of the below features and each tool has different designs for their versions. For example, most of them have a knife blade incorporated but some have a saw backed knife. Others have a (groan) bottle opener/knife blade!
Adjustable shovel head with sharpened edge for axe workand saw edge
Knife Blade and/or Spear point
Glass Breaker end stop
Choose Your Multifunction Shovel Carefully
I purchased a $100 shovel, to see if these tools are any good and I like the versatility they provide. For example, mine came with the items in bold above, allowing me to carry all these things in one tool. While I wouldn’t rely on these as my primary options, they do make a nice backup to have in case of emergency.
Apart from the price, I chose mine based on its knife/spear point design, it just looked sturdier than the others. For instance, some of the other knife points had bottle openers incorporated and just made a weak point in the blade. Considering that you can use it as a spear, I thought a robust spear point would be preferred.
Check out these items below but I don’t recommend purchasing any of them, I am still testing mine out! The first link is to the shovel I purchased and the others are the ones I rejected, due to their design/price. Make sure you assess the usefulness of each feature before you commit, as well as the quality of their design. Try not to get bedazzled by all the bottle openers and focus on the fundamentals of survival.
Online Options for Survival Tools – Focus on the Details
This is the one I purchased, note the wider spear point and no bottle opener or other weak point in the blade. This model also has thick walled handles and is reasonably heavy, adding some heft to its chopping potential.
Similar type but see the poorly placed bottle opener on the end of the blade. If the blade is going to break, it will most likely be there.
Too many weak points in this blade, however, it does come with a nice spear point
Similar $100 version, no spear point but it has an ice pick and a bottle opener of course!
It wouldn’t be online shopping without a crazy expensive type. This is not the craziest either and there are dozens to choose from. Make sure you look over the individual items and focus on their function and durability.
Multifunction Folding Shovel Review
The Shovel Head
Now I’ve had a chance to look over my shovel, I can offer some feedback on what to expect from the $100 range. Starting at the head, which is a reasonable quality in finish and strength but not really sharp. The Axe edge is blunt but with the weight it makes for a very effective chopper on standing deadwood. This survival tool will have no problems de-branching a tree with its heft and handle length.
Also, there is a saw edge on the opposite side to the axe blade, for you to cut down branches instead. Maybe it’s a fish de-scaler because it sure as hell is not a saw! For starters the teeth are not sharp and have absolutely no “set”, making it a fish scale remover at best. It will need some grinding work to improve but even then, it will never be an effective saw.
All in all, the shovel head feels strong. After bashing it into a tree and prying up some large rocks, it held up well for a $100 survival tool. With its length and weight, you can gather firewood more efficiently and save your energy for other things.
My shovel came with 3 handle extensions that all thread together nicely and with no slack. Also, there is a rubber O-ring that threads in to dampen any vibration which could cause them to come loose. I hacked a few decent branches off a tree and they all held tightly together while I did.
Made from Aluminium, the handle extensions are thick walled and very strong and actually quite heavy. Keep in mind, that if you wanted to reduce weight in your pack, you could carry less handle segments. Even with less length in the handle the shovel still performed well enough to replace an axe.
With all three extensions and the head piece, the multifunction shovel is almost 1 meter long. Which makes this a formidable survival tool and a must to have in your Bug out Bag. Overall, even a cheap version will do the job out in the wild and replace the need to take other tools with you. This will help make up for the heavy weight of this kit.
This survival tool comes with other tools which I will quickly discuss each item. The compass is fixed at the bottom of the handle and will definitely break, it is poor quality anyway. Even if it was good quality, a few whacks into a tree and its reliability would be in question. You can remove just the compass section from the handle to prevent this and other versions may have a better compass.
The Ferro rod/whistle is pretty standard and the knife/spear attachment has 90 degree edges to act as an efficient scraper. The knife/spear point seems well tempered and would hold up to some reasonable use. The weight of the handle could cause issues, if you were to throw the spear into a tree for instance.
Also included was a small paracord lanyard and a glass breaker point, revealed when you remove the compass segment. All up the construction and materials, of my choice of multifunction shovel, will do the job that I wanted.
Survival Tasks for Survival Tools
The tasks that I scored the tools against were the basic things a survivor would expect to carry out. To get a good score, the survival tool needed to score in all categories to make it into the top five. I will go through the categories and explain why the multifunction shovel scored so well.
Firewood Gathering/Fire Starting – 5 pts
The shovel top scored (out of 5pts) in this task and not only because it has a Ferro rod to start a fire. It is also a replacement for an axe to gather firewood and I probably should’ve given this survival tool 10 pts here.
Hunting – 5 pts
With the inclusion of a spear point and the sheer weight of this tool, it makes for an effective option for hunting. You can also use it as a shovel to dig holes and fashion other traps for even larger animals.
Water/Water Purification – 4 pts
Having a shovel in your kit will allow you to dig a hole for a solar still and enable you to make and purify water. You will obviously be able to dig deeper for water in dry river beds and such other places that you find water.
Medical – 3 pts
With the knife/spear point you will be able to do some first aid procedures like any blade. The handle sections can be used to splint broken bones or even used as a crutch at full length.
Shelter – 4 pts
Not only used as an axe to cut saplings for a shelter, you can also dig into snow or earth if required.
Signal/Navigation – 4 pts
It has a compass; it does work in spite of its poor quality and will need to be protected from damage. The shovel head surface is reflective and could be used to signal for rescue in a pinch and you have a rescue whistle too. I took a point off as the compass needs better protection in its current location at the end of the handle.
Defence – 5 pts
If I had a choice of this shovel, a knife, machete or axe, I would choose the multifunction shovel for my defence. The shovel has the weight and reach and you don’t even need the spear point for this thing to defend well. It’s a beast!
Useful Score – 7 pts
As the shovel scored in each of the 7 tasks, so it also scored 7 pts and made it a clear winner. I wasn’t sure that was correct at the start but after using mine for a little bit, I think it’s a pretty accurate score. I am definitely including a multifunction shovel in my Bug out Bag.
What Survival Tools Should You Carry?
Now, I’ve settled on the No.1 tool, I can look to shape the remaining tools that I need to carry in my BoB. And I think some might be redundant, due to the versatility of the multifunction shovel. Read the next post on the remaining survival tools and see which ones are in and out.
Thanks for reading!
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