In some cases it can be necessary to initiate an emergency survival bug out plan. The first step in any good bug out plan is to plan out and assemble a bug out bag or BOB. A BOB should contain items necessary to survival in an emergency situation that applies to your specific situation and should be evaluated several times a year. First and foremost you need to determine where you would be bugging out to, or what your bug out location is. Often this can be a friend or relatives home that is some distance from your primary residence but you also might have a specific bug out location or BOL that is designed to be just that, a safe, sheltered and fortified with food and water location far enough from your primary residence to provide separation and safety.
So based on your BOL or bug out location, your BOB or bug out bag must be designed to assist you in getting to the BOL location. The rationale behind evaluating the bug out bag several times a year is to allow you to restock the bag with different items depending on the time of year and weather associated with the time of year as well as to replace any expired items. We all hope that if we were really forced to use the bug out bag, we would be carrying it in our car or truck to get us to the BOL but that might not always be the case. Evacuation routes could be blocked or inaccessible which would necessitate walking instead of driving. That said, you don’t need winter gloves and a hand warmer in your bug out bag in August, and you don’t need sunscreen in January, so it is a good idea to evaluate your bug out bag contents several times throughout the year. In the same vein you also want to check any items that have an expiration date or could lose functionality or capability over time, items like protein bars or disposable lighters, etc.
So how do you go about planning the contents of your bug out bag? The easiest way is to imagine yourself immersed in a situation where you would need it, not just any situation, the worst you can think of, the reason for this is that by preparing your BOB for the worst possible emergency survival situation, you will have everything you need for much lesser situations. So worst case is you are on foot as your vehicle is either rendered inoperable or the roads are impassable. Consider you have to hoof it to your BOL, how many days would it take you to walk there? The average human without carrying anything and on smooth ground walks at 3 mph, that speed is drastically reduced when walking through forests or farm fields as well as when hauling a large pack. What about your companions? If you are walking with children or elderly folks your speed becomes reduced as well. Considering you might be on the road a few days walking to your BOL it would be safe to assume you would require some sort of portable shelter system to sleep in if the weather were to be or become inclement. Since you cannot predict when or if an emergency survival situation were to arise, you must plan for the worst case which would be poor weather, rain or snow if you are in the northern climates. You might consider a good lightweight poncho as it can provide double duty, it keeps you dry when walking and with some paracord (parachute cord) you can quickly use it as a tarp to keep the rain or snow off when you are resting.
Walking burns calories, you need to consider you will burn up to 3000 calories per day when walking depending on the climate and topography and if you are spending a few days getting to your BOL, you will need some food for fuel. The easiest BOB foods are Mayday Survival Food Bars, these food bars are available in varying calorie counts and will keep you fueled in an emergency survival situation. These emergency survival bars typically have a 5yr shelf life. Another option would be protein bars, however you want to pay close attention to the shelf life and the calorie counts, often these types of food bars are protein rich but have relatively low calorie counts and short shelf life. You can also look into back packing foods, companies like Mountain House and Alpine Aire produce freeze dried foods that are excellent if you have a method of heating water to a boil. Lastly you can look at MRE’s which are Meals Ready To Eat, these are the rations our Armed Services soldiers eat when they are in the field, many are quite tasty and they come with a built in heater to warm them up, you simply add water to the heater and wait about 15 minutes for a nice warm meal high in calories and fats these are great meals when you are on the move and have a typical shelf life of 5 yrs. The downside to MRE’s is that they are a bit bulky, to pack 6 of them for 3 people to walk 3 days would take up a lot of valuable space in your BOB . Our recommendation is the Mayday Bars supplemented with a few protein bars, this strategy is lightweight, uses little space in your BOB, keeps you appropriately fueled and does not require you to boil water or start a fire (can be very difficult in the rain) .
Even walking a distance in the dead of winter can render you dehydrated fairly quickly, although keeping water in your bug out bag is not the best idea as water does go bad over time, can leak and ruin other emergency survival preps in your BOB. Carrying water takes up valuable space in your BOB and adds a lot of weight per cubic inch, however it is more important to have water than to have food. Keeping some bottled water on hand and rotating it every 30 days to insure the water is always fresh is the best idea. Many folks keep some water in their car and just rotate it every week or two when they do the grocery shopping. If you are going to be covering an area that has rivers lakes, ponds and streams, it is possible that you may not need to carry water but instead carry a water filter like a LifeStraw or Katadyn filter so you can simply stop anywhere there is water and filter enough to drink or cook with. You need to be careful about using a filter and not carrying water, you will still need some type of water container, preferably a metal one that will let you boil water, also you need to carefully map out not just one by several routes to your BOL and figure out where the water sources are relative to your walking speed. You need to be able to get water at least twice per day to prevent the onset of dehydration which can cause a massive loss of energy, severe headaches, nausea and more. You must also keep in mind the time of year, in winter are your water sources frozen over are the water bottles in your car frozen? In summer many creeks and streams can dry up, you need to keep this in the back of your mind as you plan your routes.
Including 3 or 4 days of clothes for every season in your bug out bag is not very practical, this is another reason to re-evaluate your BOB every few months and potentially replace clothing based on the upcoming season. After walking in the rain all day and huddling under a dripping poncho it can be emotionally lifting to remove wet clothes and replace them with dry warm clothing. Keeping a few extra pairs of socks (wool socks are great for this) and a dry pair of pants and shirt in your bug out bag can be the difference between hypothermia and comfort. Keep these items in something waterproof like zip lock bags so even if your BOB gets soaked through and through, you will still have dry clothing to wear. Hypothermia is possible even in what would otherwise be considered good weather. In light rain at 60 degrees you could suffer from hypothermia if you are unable to dry off and warm up, therefore dry clothes become a necessity nearly all year long. Wool clothing is great for these situations as wool will retain 80% of its insulation value even when it is wet. A long sleeve lightweight wool shirt should be a must for your bug out bag as well as a good tactical watch.
The color of your bug out bag is also critical, many preppers opt for a camo colored bug out bag, however a camo colored bug out bag may make you a target, as others might see you as being more prepared. It is better to go with a commercial style black or dark grey backpack for a bug out bag so you blend in better.