Whether you live in the country or an urban environment, everyone should have a bug out bag (BOB). For those of you who don’t know, a BOB is a pre arranged pack of supplies usually designed for a person to live out of for up to 72 hours in case of an emergency. These situations could range from evacuation, natural disaster, revolution, the zombie apocalypse (however unlikely) or really anything that would require you to leave your home or dwelling for an extended period of time under duress. The concept behind having a bag that will last you 72 hours, is that in most countries (yours’ could be different) government emergency services or disaster relief could take up to 72 hours to reach you and provide aid. Until that time, you can only rely on yourself. In part 1. of this multi- part blog we will be covering simply the bag itself for either occupying or escaping to a rural environment, features to look for and some of my picks for the top BOB’s on the market. In the coming parts we will get into medical items, tools, utilities, designated compartments and basically all the essentials you’ll require. However, before we do that, l need to inform you of some important factors regarding 72 hour packs.
Before building your BOB there are some realizations you need to come to before starting to make the appropriate purchases.
First; a bug out bag is not designed for you to live out of for an extended period of time. It is to keep you alive for 72 hours until disaster relief etc. comes to your aid or until you reach a pre planned semi or fully permanent structure stocked with supplies. Which leads into my second point.
Have a plan! If you think that you’re just going to grab your BOB and play it by ear you may be in for a short trip. Now that being said, there will never be a perfect scenario and things at some point will definitely not go as planned, so if this does happen, have a plan for not having a plan. If you don’t have a place to go, find somewhere to gather your thoughts and ask yourself: What areas are around me? How far are they? Can I walk to them if need be? If I get there will I be found? Can I hide there? How close is it to water? Would I be able to find food? How close is it people or a potential settlement? Catch my drift? Stop, think and figure out a route. A rough plan is better then no plan.
Third. What is your end state? Are you looking to be found? Or are you looking to disappear? Now remember that this blog is based around a rural environment and typically people would choose clothes and a pack of woodland colour or camouflage. But is that always correct? You need to weigh your risks depending on what situation you are in. For example; one would think that if you are looking to be rescued you would have brighter coloured clothing to be potentially seen by aircraft. However, is their civil unrest occurring in your area? So again ask yourself: Would you rather camouflage yourself to avoid being seen by others that may wish to do you harm? Or would you still use bright coloured bags and apparel with the hope of being rescued before someone of ill intent finds you? If help doesn’t come, are you prepared to defend yourself and your possessions? Obviously there are other ways to be seen in the bush besides just your clothes. Fire, tracks, lights etc. are huge factors as well. Just some food for thought to get your mind working. As an aside, in an urban setting your style of bug out bag and kit will differ, which will be covered in another upcoming blog.
Lastly; a BOB is not a rucksack. Depending on the situation you may be required to move quickly on foot and get out of dodge in a hurry and a rucksack is simply too heavy and bulky. I won’t say that you CAN’T use a rucksack as a BOB, however I don’t recommend it; and here’s why. As already mentioned, rucksacks are large and restrict your movement. They also give people the false idea that they can pack their whole house in them. Let me tell you, after over a decade in the military, I’ve worn a lot of rucks and walked many many kilometres. Nothing sucks more then getting halfway through a march and realizing you over packed. You develop lower back, hip and foot problems due to the weight and still have more distance to go to reach safety. Avoid it, trust me. Sure, there are some you out there that are 6’6 fitness freaks that can handle a ruck or heavier pack. That’s fine. Do what works for you; but for most people of average size and fitness, don’t use a rucksack. Best way to test this; grab a backpack you already have, put some weight in it and go walk some trails. That way at least you will get a rough idea of how far you can go with a certain amount of weight.
In this blog I won’t be touching on the individual companies as there are simply too many. Not only the bigger, more well known companies, but there are a ton of smaller independent companies that make excellent quality packs. Before providing you with my top BOB picks. Here are a few features you should look for when picking a good bag.
Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. This system located on the outside of the bag allows the user too add more pouches and compartments to the pack if they require more space for a specific tool. It allows for a higher level of accessibility and customization should the user need more room.
Hydration Bladder Compartment
Having a specialized compartment for a Hydration bladder is a good feature to keep in mind. When a bladder is full, it can take up space which my be required for other items. Also if you have other tools in your pack with sharp edges or points, it would be ill advised to put your bladder next to them for obvious reasons. If your bladder bursts, everything in your pack is soaked and more importantly; you’re down water and a carrying system. Need I say more? With a designated compartment it is away from your other equipment and easily accessible if you need to refill.
Waist belt and hip padding
This one is somewhat of a double edged sword. I personally do not have the waist belt installed on my BOB however it does have the capability for it. Would I wear it if I was walking a long distance? Absolutely. I would always recommend buying a bag with waist belt capability, even if you choose to not utlize it. If you need to drop your pack in a jam; it’s another clip to undo in a world where seconds count. If you prefer the speed and won’t use the waist belt, take it out and store it. There is no point in having it attached but not done up, it will just get caught on foliage, branches etc. and become an annoyance. However if you plan on walking a long distance with a heavy bag; install it and wear it. It will provide support to your hips and lower back by taking a large amount of weight off of your shoulders, making it much easier to carry.
Wide Shoulder Straps
This one is pretty straight forward. If the shoulder straps are too thin and you’re carrying a lot of weight, they will dig in to your shoulders and become extremely uncomfortable. If you are walking a long distance, putting up with this will become very tiresome and hindering.
Now that you’ve had a chance to digest all of the above material and considerations regarding what to look for in a BOB, I will now give you my top picks on what are in my opinion, some of the best bug out bags for sale today.
Condor 3 Day Assault Pack
The Condor 3 day assault pack is currently the BOB that I am using and I must say I am impressed. Only recently deciding to set it up for rural escape, I have used this bag for the past 4 years. Whether taking it to the field, camping or just as an EDC (everyday carry), it has stood up to many a beating. Other then normal wear and tear this pack still has no major damage to it whatsoever. It comes outfitted with Molle front and side pouches, a hydration bladder compartment, wide shoulder straps as well as a waist belt. Four checks in the box right there. It has main and secondary compartments, a front map pocket, two large side pouches and a bottom compartment which I use for first aid. Inside are internal pouches and dividers as well to organize your kit the way you want for better accessibility. While it is a 3 day bag, it does not feel overly large like others sometimes do. All in all an excellent pack for a 72 hour BOB.
5.11 Tactical Rush24 37L
Another great option for a BOB; over the past few years 5.11 Tactical has really stepped up their game. The Rush24 bag has three of the four essentials for me; The molle front and sides, hydration bladder compatibility and wide shoulder straps. It does not come with a waist belt. I have seen these bags rigged up with them however you may be restricted in which kind of belt you attach, as the specifications for both need to line up, so just keep that in mind. Now while this is designed as a 24 hour pack (which is why the waist belt probably isn’t included) it can easily be packed for 48 and pushed to 72 hours if your packing method is on point. While the rush series does make a 72 hours version of this bag, I find it enormous. An excellent bag it still is, however at that size I believe it would encourage over packing which as discussed previously can lead to complications. On the other hand it does come with an attached waist belt, so its a decision you will have to weigh on your own. It has a long list of 5.11 specific features as well, and I must say the layout inside of the compartments is excellent. Using mesh pockets as well as sealable vinyl, you should have no problem organizing your kit. A great bag that is built to last. Have a look at both the 24 and the 72 and make your choice as to what size you want, both are good, it all depends on your preference and how efficient you are at packing.
Eberlestock G1 Little Brother Pack
Designed for military use, this bag is beast and is by far one of the best bug out bags out there. It hits three out of four of the essentials I look for; hydration bladder compartments, wide shoulder straps, and molle. It does have the capability for a waist belt however it is sold as an addition. This pack is loaded with molle on the inside and outside for extra pouches that can be organized however you want depending on your situation. The massive main compartment which can actually hold two bladders if you felt so inclined, is more then large enough to hold all the essentials you require. It is also worth mentioning that the Little Brother Pack is the main bag on Eberlestock’s Skycrane 2 load bearing system which is worth taking a look at if you are looking for something bigger and getting into the realm of rucksacks. As I say with all larger bags; Do not over pack! However if you are looking for a bit larger of a BOB that is tough, tried and tested by military forces and built to last, have a look at the G1 Little Brother.
Like I said previously, there are simply too many good companies and bags to list them all, these are just my personal picks for the best BOB’s. Having worn a lot of bags throughout my time in the military and travelled very long distances, over rough terrain I can tell you that spending the time to find a good bag is worth it. Just like boots that carry you from point A to point B, the bag is carrying all you need to survive; so getting a quality one counts. That being said, do your research and explore around. If you decide we have similar likes then cool, if not, that’s cool too. Best of luck on your adventure.
Until next time,
Coming soon: Part 2 – The main compartment – What to pack.
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