Mar 30, 2016

The Bug-Out Pack Survival System

Bug-Out Bags are nothing new to military families stationed overseas. In an emergency, military dependents are expected to have such bags prepared and ready at a moment's notice in case of evacuation of non-combatant personnel stationed in US Armed Forces posts. Military commands provided a list of what should be in each individual bag and an extra duffel bag for supplies and clothing for small children.
For preppers, the content is a bit different in that wilderness survival gear is included and a special canine pack is prepared for the four-legged member of the family that includes rations of their food and water inside.
Preparing for disasters is prudent – earthquakes, forest fires, floods, or break down of civilization for other reasons. For many, it is not a question of 'if', but 'when'. Self-defense weapons is not a macho thing, it is common sense. Those that did not prepare are going to try to take what you have, and there is always the presence of society's criminal predators already in existence who will become rogue when law enforcement measures breaks down. Besides, law enforcement and the national guard cannot be everywhere at once – and history shows that law enforcement and the cavalry always shows up after the fact. Not a criticism, just a fact.
Typical Vest System, offered in various coloring
The primary concern of a bug-out pack system is weight. It is not much of a concern if you are bugging out in a vehicle – but what happens if you are forced to bug out on foot? Having a vehicle available is optimum, which affords people to have a place to store emergency rations and extra water. Each bug out pack should have personal items for the carrier, plus rations of food and water. Group supplies, like medical and survival items can be distributed among the family/group; but a basic survival kit should be in each individual's pack in case the group becomes separated for some reason. 
Ensure Your Bug-Out Pack has Hydration System
There is a wonderful array of lightweight durable items that can be included in your bug out inventory. Would it not be nice to have a reference library to take along?
Issue Surplus Case: Kindle, maps, pens, pencils
Technology has allowed this to happen, and the Kindle e-reader is a good choice because the battery lasts for weeks. It is rugged, especially with cover accessories and stored in a waterproof container or military map case. Battery charging is not a problem if you have a vehicle, but if you are hoofing it, a solar battery charger should be included in your list. In my bug-out system, I have a Special Forces medical manual and survival book in paperback. The great thing about the Kindle is that it can hold thousands of books. Each person can have one in their bug out system with a personal library selection as well as the necessary survival reference books.
The following diagram provides an idea of in inspection layout that proves useful to ensure that nothing has been forgotten, along with check list, when packing for a readiness pack system. 
Example of a Modern Military Layout - NATO/British
The Art of Manliness website, one of my favorite sites, published an article by a guest, written by Creek Stewart, senior instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft. He goes into detail as to why a Kindle should be included in your bug out pack.
In this article, I mention a bug-out system. This is because a person can carry more if along with a backpack one includes the military combat vest and load-carrying system. This system has proven useful to combat soldiers and Marines, and can be adapted for personal survival situations. It has accessories like pouches and pockets, as well as places to attach other items for quick access instead of taking off backpack whenever something is needed.
Stewart has also written an article entitled How to Make a Bug Out Bag; as well as a book entitled Built the Perfect Bug Out Bag, which I recommend for reading and adding to your Kindle library.
The bug-out bad/system is designed as a 72-hour disaster kit; but as I mentioned, that can be extended by sharing the load or having a vehicle available – either a 4-wheel drive or an ATV. Either one runs on fuel and becomes useless when it runs out of fuel.
The consideration of a BOB (Bug-Out Bag) was once considered to be from people with imaginative and adventurous minds. The reality is, however, as Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, the possibility of requiring one is worth the effort and money to put one together.
Remember the golden rule: Better to have and not be needed than needed and not have.

The first consideration would be choosing the backpack and vest system to fit the need. There is a myriad of businesses that have jumped on this band wagon to make money selling to preppers. Many items in a BOB system can be put be gathered more cheaply with a do-it-yourself survival kit system. Ultimately, weight is important; which also means it is best to stay in shape. To do this would be simple: go on regular walks with a light backpack. Choose a backpack with a built-in hydration system, or at least a pocket provided to insert one. Make sure that the backpack has a proper weight distribution system that includes a chest strap that goes from left to right on the backpack straps; as well as a hip/waist belt. When putting on backpack, lean forward after strapping to shoulder and then tighten straps to ensure that the load/pack sits high. It must be snug, but not tight to prevent a circulation problem. In most cases, the sleeping bag system is strapped to the bottom of the pack, which provides a base for pack to stand up when at rest, and keeps the further weight of sleeping bag centered at lower back/waist. The combat vest has all the pouches, holster and accessories at the front so it does not interfere with backpack.
After selecting what backpack you will need to put together a list of what will be packed in it, as well as the vest system.
The military would have inspections where a soldier would lay out their complete field system on their shelter half or poncho. It would be a good idea for the family to do the same thing and go through a check list to inspect and make sure everything required is there before packing it all into a bug-out bag.
Bug-Out Pack Layout
For proper hydration, you will need one liter of water per day. You cannot survive long without water, much less of a time than without food. If you are putting together a 72-hour survival kit, this means 3 liters of drinking water (minimum); attainable through the hydration bag system. An army canteen, standard of the expanded desert variety, filled with drinking water and attached to the belt of your combat vest. Make sure that the military canteen includes the metal drinking cup which is great for boiling water collected in the field. Canteen covers usually have a small pouch pocket, that is where you put your water purification tablets. Do not forget to include a Katadyn Hiker Filtration System – expensive but worth it.
OK for vehicle, but must be broken down for pack
Next is food. It is tempting to put canned foods in your pack. Trust me, you don't want the extra weight. The US Armed Forces went to the light field rations from the “C” rations for just that reason – the weight. Include a can opener or one that is included in a Swiss Army type survival knife, just in case you need to open a can. The only disadvantage of the ready-meal kits is that they are not “ready” without hot water. Do not forget equipment/supplies to clean cooking utensils and mess kit with. A small bottle of bleach put into a zip-lock bag is recommended. The bleach goes a long way to clean and sanitize eating utensils and backpack cookware. I also include a utensil tool with fork, knife, and spoon in one convenient tool. A military mess kit works just fine, all packed in one neat package. Use stainless steel items for easy sanitation and boil water for rinsing - not drinking water, but water collected in camp. The quick meal system provides less labor in preparing meals.
'Bush-Buddy' Wood-Burning Pack Stove
So, it would be important to include a small, self-contained backpack stove. There are such stoves that operate on kerosene and camp-stove fuel or propane, and this would be okay for a pleasure camping trip, but not for survival. Choose a compact, folding stove that can be used for burning sticks and small branches. Don't forget the fire-starting kit that should be included in your basic survival kit. The stove serves dual purpose – heat in your shelter and cooking. When using a fire in a confined space, remember the danger of carbon monoxide.

When it comes to shelters, the traditional native American tipi is the best tent that can be made from a poncho or heavy-duty tarp. It provides an opening at the top for campfire or stove smoke to escape, its rounded shape provides more stability in high winds, and easily sets up and breaks down for mobility. If you double the walls in a tipi, it will act like the US Army arctic tent, which provides excellent heat containment. 
Guide Gear Military Style Arctic Tent, 10'x10'
From a small army stove and in a ten-man arctic tent, we sat in our skivvies with temperatures dropping to -25 degrees outside without the wind chill during winter training in Minnesota.
Of course, the 10'x10' arctic-teepee tent shown in image above has a smoke stack and camp stove, for longer stays and bug-out equipment requiring a vehicle. As far as a shelter, you will have several options according to the situation. The military poncho is an excellent quick, short-term shelter. There are individual tent systems that are light, durable, and waterproof. Just keep in mind about the weight requirement. It would not hurt to have an emergency survival blanket, they are light and roll up into small space. Also include a 6'x10' waterproof nylon tarp – go for quality. 
The image below is an economical 'bug-out' vehicle (pun not intended). The blonde is optional.
VW Bug with optional blonde
Bug out vehicles run the gamut from a 5-ton US Army surplus vehicle to a four-passenger Ranger ATV with an ATV trailer.
Diesel-Engine Ranger ATV
Pak-Rat ATV Trailer
No room for passengers - everyone else walks
Ultimate Bug-Out Vehicle - doubles for camping
Of course, if you can afford it, the ultimate bug-out vehicle pictured above doubles as a recreational camping vehicle - all tricked out complete with kitchen. ATVs work best because of their fuel economy and ability to negotiate small trails. 
Energy bars for quick snacks don't weigh much and you should find a pouch to keep them in your combat vest system. A mess kit, military or civilian backpacking type is also essential. Another item often forgotten on the list is toilet paper, which, if you purchase the military MREs, a packet of toilet tissue is included. A big roll of toilet paper will take up valuable space, so seek alternatives – even making up a bagged kit of TP can be useful.

Sanitized hand soap comes in small containers. Avoid the pump type and get the squeeze bottle. It is great because it is a 'waterless' soap, meaning you do not need to have a water source around or use your precious drinking water. Sanitary practices is important – you cannot afford to become ill or get some debilitating disease.

Next is clothing. Waterproof jacket and pants, as well as the military poncho. The poncho should be oversized in order to fit over your backpack system. Quality hiking boots. An extra pair of pants that is not 100% cotton. The military style pants are great because of their useful pockets, and loose for air circulation. Do not wear or bring blue jeans. Also, include one set of thermal underwear, two extra T-shirts and two boxer-brief shorts. 1-2 extra shirts. Gloves. 2-4 pairs of quality wool knitted socks. 
Change socks regularly and attach to outer backpack when on the move so they dry and air out. The military stresses upon the care of feet – an army cannot move without them. Roll all clothing like the military does and clothing will take up less space, plus you would be surprised how it prevents wrinkled clothing – not that it matters in a survival situation. 
Don't forget a towel and washcloth. 
Field Folding Bucket
Find an army surplus canvas water bucket or civilian imitation – it is great for washing out of as a wash basin when washing utensils or body wash. Before the Kevlar helmet came into use, the army steel pot was used to wash out of – like a wilderness wash basin. 
Boonie Hat
Mentioning helmets, headgear will be a personal preference. If you can afford it, the Kevlar helmet is great for protection and I like the comfort of a military beret. However, a jungle hat is great because it protects from the sun the entire circumference of the head area - meaning neck. n alternate to this would be the Australian outback hat or the American western hat. Comfort and protection is key, not style. 
Winter Bush Hat
Some like the beret because it does not interfere with sighting capabilities with firearms. You will have to decide what is best for you, but remember it is best to be practical. The wool watch cap or trapper's hat with ear flaps is practical cold-weather gear, and does not take up much room. The watch cap will cover one's ears where a beret will not.
Gaiters - protection for all seasons
Waterproof gaiters is recommended - especially for folks in snow country. It keeps snow from working inside your boots and getting your legs wet and since they are light, they can be used in other seasons to keep debris and critters from crawling into your boots - and reduces chance of snake bite. At the very least, blouse your pant leg inside your boots or by using the military blousing devices. Choosing clothing and gear according to climate and terrain cannot be over emphasized. 
When packing a poncho, don't forget a poncho liner. It provides more warmth and can be used for doubling the layer of a short-term shelter, which also provides warmth retention.
Makeshift Teepee can be covered by poncho on outside with poncho liner on inside.
Around your neck or in a convenient pouch located on your combat vest, you should have a pair of binoculars. It does not have to be expensive or a large one. Remember weight.
US Army Modular Sleep System
A sleeping bag is essential, although the heat-retaining emergency blanket is good in a pinch. If you want a light system, stick to the 30-40 degree bag. If you want an ultimate system, but little more weight, choose the military modular sleeping bag system. It will keep you warm in even sub-zero conditions, and is flexible because it is a layered system. Don't forget to protect your sleeping bag or sleeping bag system from the elements. If you can handle the extra weight, a good Swiss wool army blanket would be an excellent addition. Wool maintains 80% heat and useful even when wet.
Individual Tent and Sleeping Bag System

A small personal firestarter kit as well as first aid kit is essential. If you have a medic-trained person in your group, that person might want to carry more than just basic first aid.
Sample Survival Kit
Tools you will need includes, but not limited to: survival knife, Swiss Army survival knife, multi-tool pliers kit, combat knife, hunting knife system with skinning blade, ammunition, rifle/shotgun and handgun of choice. A machete and survival ax should also be considered. 
S&W .357 MP Revolver with accessory rail
There is much argument over the type of firearm for survival – everything from a single-shot, break-down, .22-caliber rifle to a .30-06 hunting rifle. In handguns, people tend to want semiautomatics, but I discourage that because there are more parts to break down and wear – so I suggest a quality revolver. It can be an old fashioned break-open Schofield single action in .357/.38-caliber or .45 Long Colt OR a Smith & Wesson double-action .357 with a five-inch barrel. If you want to reduce weight, choose a long barreled revolver in large caliber with a telescopic sight. It serves its purpose for defense and you can hunt with it. You will need ample ammunition, but remember the weight problem. A 200-round 5.56mm bandolier is hefty and so is 200 rounds of .357. Revolver quick-load mechanisms can be kept in a pouch or two on your belt or combat vest. 
Ruger 5.56mm/.203 Rifle with grip-bipod accessory
As far as suggested rifles, the AR-15 in 5.56mm/.203 caliber is an excellent choice. Some may prefer it to be chambered in 7.62mm/.308 caliber to use for big game hunting. It should be fitted with a quick-fire sight system and collapsible iron sights for versatility. A flashlight module is optional. Remember, if you use a flashlight, you become an illuminated target. You might consider a night vision sight system, but they are heavy. If you want the same caliber in your rifle as pistol, suggest the Thompson carbine with a .45ACP semi-auto pistol, or if you do not mind revolvers and lever actions, a rifle lever-action chambered in .357 with matching caliber S&W MP revolver. But for self defense versatility, I would go for the AR chambered in either 5.56mm (.223) or 7.62mm (.308). I like the .357 caliber revolver because I can safely use .38 caliber ammunition as well. My philosophy is that if you cannot stop an aggressive person in six shots (high caliber ammunition) – you need to spend more time at the range. Some people prefer the semiautomatic because of its extended ammunition capabilities – eight to eighteen rounds. It's okay if you are in a military situation; but all-in-all, it is personal preference. Whatever you decide, use common sense and not what is impressionable or popular. In a survival situation, such things are inconsequential.
Hunter's Skinning Knife

You will also need a small package of emergency candles and dependable flashlight. I prefer the military kind that attaches to either the backpack straps or the combat vest via belt clip. If you want a hands-free operating light system without putting a light on your forehead or cap, the angled flashlight is made so for a purpose. It provides light when clipped to web gear, combat vest, or backpack straps. It also comes with a green, red, and clear lens as well as an extra bulb in the storage compartment provided. The lanyard ring is handy as well, you can hang it from the ceiling of your shelter. Inside the backpack I also keep a small battery-operated backpack lantern. The LED light system provides adequate light in a small package. Battery operated gizmos require rechargeable batteries (make sure ALL batteries are rechargeable) – which also requires the solar battery charging system.
Midland 2-Way Radios with Ear-piece-microphone
Communications is something, like toilet paper, that some forget. This can be anything from your cell phone, to a 2-way system where parties can talk to each other on the trail with an ear-mouth piece, and/or a base communication radio with a far range and includes shortwave receiver capability. Motorola is my recommendation, but there are other systems out there. Individual communication 2-way systems are great, with a base-camp radio (solar and crank capabilities is handy) is useful – but remember the weight.
Typical Topo Map shows physical features and elevation
Included in a military map case, you should store any important documents. Suggest that you keep your wallet with your driver's license in your cargo pants pocket or one of your pouches of your combat vest. A small address book with important information like addresses, account numbers, et cetera. Don't forget your firearm carry permit!
Next is navigation. This may be a simple compass or a battery-operated GPS, I suggest both. It would not hurt to have a topographical map of your area and/or the area you intend to bug-out to. You can purchase topo maps from government or civilian sources. Keep the maps in a waterproof military map case, which includes holders for pens/pencils and a notebook. I still have my NCO/Officer field case that works well for this purpose, but it is made of canvas and the only waterproofing is from using a waterproof spray solution on it. It has a shoulder strap, but can be attached to the pack. One thing about the GPS is that if satellite communications is destroyed or damaged – it becomes a useless electrical piece of hardware. Maps, therefore, are essential – especially topo; but a state road map is better than nothing. Your compass should be of quality, not those cheap compasses one finds screwed on the end of a 'survival' knife. Military lensatic compasses are reasonable in price and works well with topographic maps. 
72-Hour Bug-Out Kit example
There is also a list of miscellaneous items you can stick in your bug-out pack system. For example, an emergency dental kit, 100-feet or more of paracord, duct tape, trip wire (Army surplus is best), two bandannas, leather work or shooting gloves (a pair of warm mittens in backpack), spare rechargeable batteries, small sewing kit (invaluable to military folks), tent repair kit, several heavy duty 30-gallon trash bags, small fishing kit (usually included in commercial survival kits), P-38 can opener, sunglasses, whistle (usually included in survival kit), lightweight stakes, earplugs, and insect repellent. Some folks add a military-issue gas mask with case and spare filters; but this must be a personal decision. If there is a chance of the air being polluted with something, it might be a good idea to include this item that is not too expensive purchased as military surplus.
US Army Field Layout - 1967
Reviewing and/or placing all these items on your shelter half or poncho in military inspection style – you begin to realize how heavy all of this ends up in carrying. You can see that the average full combat field gear can be from 50 to 75 pounds; and also realize why military personnel do calisthenics every morning and run two miles. 
Full Combat Gear can be heavy
Keep all of this in mind.
Bug-Out Bag Sample
Also, consider that there will be young children and those in the family/group who require certain medications. In addition, if there are infants in the bug-out group, they will require diapers. You may want to consider making cotton diapers and learn how to attach them the old fashion way with safety pins. In my survival kit, an assortment of various sized safety pins is included.
Wilderness Clothes Drying Rack
I also suggest that 25-feet of small diameter nylon rope be included with a set of clothes pins. You can hang clothing to dry between two trees and the sun will sterilize the clothing giving it a clean, fresh smell.
You can see why a bug-out bag system must be carefully prepared and packed ready. There is just too much to think about in last-minute situations that require evacuating quickly.
The US Army and US Marine field manuals have been tried and proven in the field. It would be wise to include these in your bug-out Kindle for reference – and study them in the meantime.
Important things like water sanitation, field fortifications, and building a safe latrine system is among the important topics in military field manuals. Take advantage of the expertise of the military's vast information sources. It would be important to know how to collect water from morning dew, part of the survival training we went through in the military. That means you must ensure that you carry large trash plastic trash bags and a box of small bags; which can be used to collect dew for replacement of drinking water. Having snares and traps in your survival system would be important to provide meat.
If you have a neighbor who is interested in being prepared, you can pool resources and knowledge – even make contingency plans in bugging out together. Numbers equals strength; however, it also means more mouths to feed. Ensure that your group has at least 72-hours of food and water to take along – more if you use off-road vehicles. Rural folks may have an advantage of having horses to use as pack animals; which is great, but remember that they need food, water and maintenance like you do. Of course, pack animals are more dependable than vehicles as far as fuel requirements.
For urban folk, the hardest part will be trying to get out of the city. Most likely the highways will be jammed and more people creating a panic. It also means that local law enforcement and/or the National Guard will be imposing a curfew. Hopefully it will not be like Hurricane Katrina, where the National Guard and local law enforcement were confiscating firearms from law abiding citizens – even those who were just staying in their homes. I would like to say that the scenario enacted by local and state government during Hurricane Katrina would not be duplicated – but I cannot be so hopeful. Anyone who is a law enforcement officer or a member of the National Guard or US military who is given an unlawful order to confiscate firearms from law abiding citizens must obey their oaths of office and protect the Constitution and the rights of the People – disobey such an order emphatically. The People have the right to protect themselves, especially during dire scenarios like aforementioned.
But that subject is for another article.
If you decide, for some reason, to make a base camp or camp over the winter; do so at high ground and ensure that all approach avenues are visible. Once again, use military manuals for information on how best to provide a secure and safe camp and keep sanitation and safety a prime element when planning. Such a scenario will require shared security measures. It would be best if you have someone with military field experience to be in charge; and although the situation does not require a democracy, a good leader will utilize feedback from members of the team.
The following videos I chose for being realistic and presented by people who know what they are doing.  Maine Prepper is an ex-US Army Ranger. There are too many videos on survival that are unrealistic and made by people who have not, apparently, spent much time in the field or undergone any actual survival training/experience. Once again, fall upon the reliability of military manuals. Practice what you read about in the field by making family (or group) camping trips. Do not just read about or watch a video on how to start a campfire without matches, do it. The friction bow system is great, but would it not be easier to use the energy of the sun with a magnifying glass? Include one in your survival kit. If you look at the various survival kit, it is rare to see a magnifying glass in them. It is a fast and easy way to get a fire going as long as you have some sort of sun shining. 
Be safe, be sensible and keep/rely upon your natural senses - the instinct to survive and its success depends upon constantly thinking and planning ahead. Remember that activity burns energy and must be replenished with food and water.
Unfortunately there is wind interference in the audio of this first video, but not enough to mask what the person is saying ...
The next video is part two ... 
"Diary of a Survivalist" - part three ... 
Survival Lily is a newcomer to the Prepper community, a spirited outdoor lady from Austria. Her videos as in this trailer for her YouTube Channel depicts are inspiring and informative:

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