Emergency Kit / Go Bag / BugOut Bag / 72-hour Kit

A Rose by any other name . . .

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Part 2: Customizing Your Kit

Call it what you want, this is an essential tool in any emergency plan whether staying where you are or bugging out. Everything is together in one container and easy to transport or store. I have one in my car (in case I'm not home when something happens) and a second one in my house to use in my house (if I intend to stay) or transfer to my truck (if I need to leave in an emergency or go camping).

Other opinions are to have 2, or more, types of emergency bags; a 72-hour bag and a long-term bag for about 2 weeks. In my humble opinion, if I have too many options than I won't get anything right. So, I focus on a single solution and duplicate it as many times as I need. I view repetition as a good method of learning and making things second nature so I don't have to think too hard about the basics when other stuff may need my focus. Other alternatives are a bag per person or a family bag or a combination of both. The combination example is that each person has their own bag with their own stuff (including pets) and then group items are distributed between all family members so that one person's bag is not much heavier than the others in the group. This is a good option for families with young, but able-body, children. There are many alternatives so choose what works for your situation and budget.

It's good to know what should be considered if a more customized version is preferred or if it's necessary to put something together if one doesn't happen to be available at a particular time and place. Again, being ready for the unexpected is a good trait to learn. In the Emergency Plan Outline, drafted using the book "When Disaster Strikes" by author Mat Stein, a proposed list of Emergency Bag contents is included. While that proposed list is extensive, the "basics" of a survival bag should, at the very least, include the "Eleven Cs"

    Emergency Kits on Amazon

Learn How to Properly Use Your Gear & Supplies and When:
If I have all the stuff in the world to go camping or use in an emergency, but don't know how to use my stuff, all I have is STUFF. And, if I don't have a plan for my camping trip or what I will do in an emergency, now I have a pile of stuff with no map to follow for their effective use.

Face-to-face with an emergency, or at the campsite, is not the time to learn how to use the gear and supplies that has been accumulated for this very purpose. What was thought to be the right tool when purchased, may now prove to be no help at all "in the moment". Don't go unprepared with not having the correct supplies in the correct quantities and not knowing how to use those supplies. Make the time to learn how to properly use all of the gear when it's first acquired and to discover if it should stay or be traded for something better. Use supplies and gear, periodically, as a refresher course. Initial testing and periodic refreshers will help take some of the stress out of the actual camping or emergency event.
    • Look at, and slowly handle, each item to learn how it works.
    • Rehearse, in your mind, why each item is significant, and what role it will fill in any scenario.
    • Recall any past experience, information, and training that each item has been used.
    • Secure Gear. Place each item securely in your pack, in proper order for use. Keep everything tied down or zipped closed.
    • Exercise and drill with "full gear" to understand personal limits and adjust if needed.
    • ALWAYS keep your pack on your person or within direct arm's reach.
    • Never wander away from your pack to, possibly, forget where you left it.
    • Never place your pack on a slope, hill, or ledge to, possibly, fall or roll away.
    • Never leave items laying randomly on the ground, making them hard to find.

Prioritizing Use of Gear and Supplies: Part of knowing your gear is knowing their limitations, quantity available and alternatives that can be used in their place. Your gear and supplies are not inexhaustible. Before using your supplies, think of other renewable resources that might be used instead so that your exhaustible supplies can be used as a last resort another time. Save the most precious resources as a last-ditch option; the "most precious use last". For example; never start a fire with a lighter if a magnesium fire-starter (ferro rod) is available and don't use the ferro rod if the sun (renewable resource) is available (using a magnifying glass). Hunt or gather off the land for food before eating your packaged, long-term food supply. Filter a natural water supply before drinking stored/bottled water.

Test Your BOB. Create a list of exercises, drills, and tactics (sample below) that will test the gear, no matter what it is.
  • Small hikes building up to multiple miles
  • Urban and outdoor tactical drills
  • Crawling, running, swimming, lying prone for extended periods of time
  • Running and jogging with fully loaded BOB
  • Pushups and pull-ups
  • Climbing steep hills with all weaponry
  • Climbing urban environments such as stairs, walls and fences
  • Long hikes with sprints and running
  • Perfecting your stances for long periods of time while crouched

Compact and Lightweight:
Innovations and technology have made bug-out supplies more compact and lightweight. When putting a bug-out bag (BOB) together, research the many options that are available, keeping these two factors in mind as well as quality. Here is a suggestion: Compressed Towel "Tablets" come in a variety of sizes and can be used for cleaning and bandages. Just add water to expand.
NOTE: While water is essential to life, it is heavy (8 pounds per gallon) so carrying large quantities is not practical. That's why a reuseable container (suitable for carrying and boiling water) and water purification method(s) should be included in the kit if you'll be on the move.

Always Include a Survival Manual:
Survival Guide on Amazon.com An expert survivalist may not need a guide but the average person may have a memory lapse of personal survival skills. While everyone should regularly practice their survival skills, every Emergency Bag/Kit should include a quality Survival Guide. A quality guide should include first aid, shelter and fire building, water collection and decontamination, wild edibles and catching game, defense, signaling and other survival topics.

Several Free Online Survival Guides are available on this web site.

Proper Packing:
There is a correct way to load a backpack; something most hikers find out the hard way while suffering from all sorts of uncomfortable backpack related pains out on the trail. Everyone wants to cram as much stuff as they can in their pack but, realistically, determine how much YOU carry and for how long and how far. The only sure way to find out is to Test Your BOB.
  • Determine how much you can, realistically, carry and don't exceed that weight limit
  • Pack only gear that is "essential" to your ultimate survival (11 Cs)
  • Choose lighter-weight alternatives to heavier and bulky
  • Choose items that serve more than one purpose to help lighten your load
While some packing rules are flexible and will depend on your unique needs, there are a few rules of thumb you should keep in mind.
  • Bottom of the Bag - items you don't need quickly (tent, sleeping bag)
  • Middle of the Bag - heaviest gear packed somewhere near the middle of the backpack (near your belt line).
  • Top of the Bag - filled with light items and the gear that you will need the most.

Pocket Emergency Kits:
Ready-2-Go Mini Emergency Survival (11 Cs) Kits on Amazon We can never be too prepared when it comes to safety, but that doesn't mean our Emergency Kit should weigh us down. Pre-packaged "Pocket Emergency Kits" are, obviously, available online but here is a tutorial to make the perfect DIY pocket-sized kit to keep with you at all times. Including the 11 Cs and a Pocket [Tiny] Survival Guide is suggested. Keep a mini kit in the glove box, purse or backpack, on the belt, in the tackle box or in the kitchen drawer; anything you always have with you and anywhere you spend your time.

11 Cs Essentials
Build Your Custom Pocket [Altoids Box] Emergency Kit From Scratch

Everyday Use:
An Emergency Survival Kit does not only apply to catastrophic scenarios, it also prepares you for some day-to-day needs that require immediate attention. Though we probably can't convince doubters to believe in preparing for catastrophes, we can show them how important preps are for everyday disasters.

Prepping and emergency preparedness don't make sense to many outside the survival lifestyle. We all know how important our preps will be when SHTF, but outsiders just don't get it; they view our emergency kit and supplies sitting on a shelf, awaiting a disaster that will never come. Read on to find out how to use your emergency preps for practical, everyday use.

Unemployment: With job security a thing of the past, any smart person will stock up in case they are no longer able to provide for their family.

House Fire: It's important that everyone in your home is well-trained in emergency procedures. Preparing for disaster can be as simple as making a plan with your family on how to get out of the house in a dangerous situation.

Minor Injuries: Staying stocked up on emergency first aid supplies and knowing about good home remedies is very important for everyday life. A full-fledged emergency first aid kit is key to your health and safety and will come in handy very often for minor injuries.

Car Catastrophes: Keeping an emergency kit stocked up and prepared, away from home, is a good idea no matter where you are.

Car Trouble: Cars break down. Tires go flat. Engines overheat. Belts break. You name it, it can go wrong when you're out on the open road. Keep the best car emergency kit in your vehicle.

Natural Disasters: Disaster preparedness will be your ticket to making it through a disaster whether you need to shelter in place or evacuate.

Evacuation: When everyone else is running to the store to grab the last minute things they need to secure their homes and hit the road, you'll be ready to roll and out of there before traffic slows you down.

Unexpected House Guests: When you're a little stocked up, you can rest easy knowing you have bedding, food, and extra supplies to accommodate your surprise visitors. Don't forget to restock.

Emergency Last Minute Food: We've all been in a pinch and needed to throw together some food at the last minute. If you have extra stock on hand, you won’t have to run to the store and waste valuable time. Don't forget to restock.

Power Outage: At best, power outages are annoying. At worst, they can be downright scary. A little extra food and some basic emergency preparedness tools, such as a flashlight and some candles, will keep you much more comfortable.

Maintains a State of Readiness: By regularly using our supplies, we are, in essence, practicing and preparing so that a "real" emergency will not panic us. We will know where to go, and what to do.

[Reference Link 1]
[Reference Link 2]

DIY Backpack:
Regardless of what you have to carry, most times, strapping it to your back, or over the shoulder or around your waist will be easier than holding it in your hands. In a survival situation, your hands should be free to hack through brush, move branches, hold a compass or carry a walking stick, to name just a few. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself without a useful pack, learn how to make your own. You can lash a frame together with rope and fill the frame with some kind of bag or tarp, or just tie a bag shut and sling it over your shoulder or tie it around your waist or make a pack or pouch from scratch with the materials on hand, like tree bark, animal skin, vines, clothing, whatever. Here are some ideas for your brain to ponder:
[Bushcraft BackPack Video 1]    [Bushcraft Packing Video]
[Bucket BackPack]    [Pants BackPack]
[Tree Bark Pack]    [Grapevine Basket]
Making a Deer into a Backpack

Water Bottle Belt or Sling Holder (DIY)
Always having drinking water at the ready is very important to survival but keeping "hands-free" when traveling is important to perform other tasks and prevent falls and injury. Consider these options to wear a standard water bottle on a belt or sling.
Photo Samples
Photo Samples and Build Instructions

FEMA Restrictions:
If The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wakes you up in the middle of the night with an alleged community emergency, understand that they prohibit "hazardous" items (guns, knives, lighters, etc.) and limits the amount of items a "victim" can bring with them to a FEMA Emergency Facility (field camp). If you become a "guest" of a FEMA Field Camp, you cannot bring any pets and what you bring must fit on your lap. If a sudden event causes you to become a FEMA Guest, it's best to prepare for such an encounter by building a FEMA-friendly kit within your Bug-Out Bag as the Bug-Out Bag may not comply with their guidelines. You may only have minutes to evacuate, with FEMA assistance, so having this kit at the ready is a good preparedness step. It is recommended to bring your wallet with legal, government-issued, identification and cash:
  • Your Emergency Bag may be OK as long as its contents comply with FEMA guidelines
  • Ear plugs to help sleep in a room full of noisy people
  • USB drive containing electronic copies of important documents

See Also:
Building an Emergency Supply Kit (Red Cross)
Building an Emergency Supply Kit (FEMA - Ready.gov)
Build the Ultimate Bug-Out Bag