This three part article will focus on and in depth discussion of one of the most important tools in the preppers tool box and that is the bugout kit. As mentioned in an earlier article, the name bugout bag is not really an accurate way to describe it since it is a three part system which not only provides three different layers of survival capability but also can and should, be adopted to various weather conditions, terrain and personal needs.
The system is divided into three parts or stages. The idea is to divide the system so that should you lose something or are forced to abandon a part of your system, you still have enough of it left that you can make do and get by.
Part one of this article is dedicated to Stage 1 of your bugout system known as EDC (Every Day Carry).
This is that part of the bugout system that you have with you most or all of the time. As with the rest of the system, what it contains will be dictated by your environment, experience, weather, time of year and hopefully the conditions you will be going into during or immediately after a disaster. The most likely conditions can be predicted using such tools as the Strategic Area Risk Assessment.
As with any part of the system, what goes into your EDC kit will vary and therefore this guide should not be used as a solid rule but a guideline. However, there are some items that will probably be found in all EDC kits. These are:
A good knife is one of the most important tools out there and in fact, there aren’t very many preparedness conscious individuals who take a step anywhere without one. I am not a very big fan of folding knives since the joint presents a weak spot, most are hard to open with one hand and those that are easy, are now slowly becoming illegal. A good bush craft or survival knife should have a full tang construction, decent steel and a clip point blade measuring about three to six inches. A good, easy to grip handle as well as a good sheath are also a must.
Some excellent knives on the market today are the Gerber LMF Infantry and Survival series of knives as well as Ka-Bar. The Gerber knives do not have full tang but in this case, most users agree that an exception can be made.
WAY TO START A FIRE
This is a very important point, especially when the weather begins to get cold or before it gets warm. A good kit will have more than one way to get a fire going and it has to be fast. Remember that the more you need that fire the harder it will be to get going. Some easy ways to start a fire is to have some cotton balls dipped in Vaseline in a small tin can. Also, products like Seal-All cement adhesive will not only light fast when you apply flame, it can also patch up tarps, ponchos and boots. Tampons are an amazing fire starting item and you will be a hero if you end up using it to help a woman in need!
Storm proof matches are also excellent. If you do some research you will be able to find some that will continue to burn even after submerged underwater and can give you five to ten seconds of intense heat. Flint and steel are also amazing since it’s small and water resistant. Bic lighters are also a good option but they do have a tendency to stop sparking when they get wet and sometimes they malfunction. Always have more than one way to throw a spark.
Gerber and Leatherman are probably the best known for manufacturing small multi tools which will fit into your pocket out of the way or even on your keys as a key chain. Multi tools are an excellent way to have more than one tool in the same place. Multi tools can be very simple and inexpensive to very sophisticated, large and you might need a second mortgage to afford them. The bottom line is that such a tool should be able to provide you with a small knife, pliers, a can opener, and an assortment of screwdrivers. Those are the basic tools that you will probably find a need for in every emergency. A good alternative to the multi-tool is the classical Swiss Army knife which is traditionally a high quality product with a variety of tools minus the pliers.
Fenix and Sure-fire are probably the most well-known tactical brands. The reason we suggest tactical grade lights is that they are capable of taking a lot more punishment than lights developed for the civilian market. The tactical lights also tend to have a very high brightness output in a relatively small package.
When purchasing flashlights think about logistics. For example, many Sure-fire tactical lights run on less common batteries such as the CRA 123. It is highly likely that you will be packing more than one battery operated item. This means you will have to carry spare batteries and you will be much better off having to carry one spare battery type than three or four different kinds. So select those flashlights which already use more common battery type such as AA. Also, keep in mind that the AA or AAA batteries will be quite easy to track down in most Walmart, drug stores and gas stations whereas other models may not.
A small first aid kit is highly recommended. A small pocket size kit should contain basic band-aids, patches, and bandages along with some pain killers and tape. This kit is for minor cuts and scrapes which may become more problematic further down the road. If you have any allergies the first aid kit would be the place for you to keep your medicine. Also, if you wear glasses or contacts, consider keeping a spare pair of glasses (not contacts) in the kit.
Cash will buy you lots of things especially when the power goes down. For this reason forget about credit or debit cards. Carry several hundred dollars in small bills if possible and have a way of keeping it close to your body. If there is a chance that the emergency will be a long term severe one, precious metals may be in order. You won’t be able to carry much because gold and silver are heavy but few ounces will always come in handy.
The ability to lash things together, make a belt, replace boot laces, tie a shelter together, make a fishing line are some of the many things that cordage can offer. Twine or rope is very difficult to manufacture in the wild and so it is always good to have some with you. Fashionable bracelets made out of Para cord can give you many feet of it at your fingertips.
If you know the area where you will operate after or during a disaster, this might be a moot point. However, if you are planning on traveling and there is even the slightest doubt as to how you will reach your objective, investing in at least a compass and map is highly recommended. A regular road map might be enough to get you where you need to go but if it’s not, a topographical map and perhaps a GPS might be the way to go. Keep in mind however that a using a GPS means you have to carry additional spare batteries and you must have a satellite signal which might not be available after events like an EMP
FOOD AND WATER
Some snacks might be beneficial in the EDC but keep in mind you’re not building a long term survival kit. The EDC is essentially designed to get you to the second part of your system, the pack. It is also designed to serve as your last line survival defense. Keep in mind that bulk and weight will play a large role in what and how much you can carry.
A water purification device such as a LifeStraw may be advisable as well as water purification tabs. If you are going to go that far, a small container might also be beneficial. A non-lubricated condom can work very well as an emergency water bladder but you will have no way to heat the water.
The EDC (Stage 1) of your Bugout system is the very basic survival gear you can comfortably carry on your person and still be able to perform normal tasks. It should be built so that all items can be hidden from site (it wouldn’t be a good idea to show up at the office with a six-inch dagger hanging off your belt) or at least be worn in a non-attention grabbing manner. The EDC does not necessarily have to be worn every day but a good preparedness practice is to remain informed as to what possible dangers may be coming close. Once the danger nears a predetermined point, a complete EDC kit should accompany you wherever you go. It should also be packed so that if you have to drop everything else, the EDC kit stays with you.
Keep in mind that no amount of equipment will help you if you don’t know how to use it. Practice making fires especially in wet conditions. Family camping trips will present an amazing opportunity to practice using what you have in your EDC kit and will also show you where your shortfalls are. Remember that if you have no idea what even minus two degrees Celsius feels like when you’re soaked, and freezing, you might have a big surprise coming when you try to start a fire! Training will show you what to expect during the harshest of conditions so take advantage of having a warm house now…while it’s still here and you have somewhere to run to if things don’t work out the way you thought!