Sunday, October 31, 2010

Light Weight Bug Out Bag

In a previous post I have written about the concept of Bugging Out and Evacuation in Emergency or Survival situations. This post addresses an alternative approach to this concept with a focus on lowering the weight of the emergency kit.

The Bag
The backpack for a low weight Bug Out Bag (LW-BOB) does not have to be as sturdy as a bag that has to hold much more equipment and a heavier weight. The most important aspect is that it has a comfortable carrying system that makes the bag fit close to your body; ideally you should be able to run medium distances with the bag. Interesting bags can found from a number of different companies like Maxpedition, Kifaru, Snugpack, Osprey, Lundhags, Fjällräven, Arcteryx, Bergans, Berghaus and Klättermusen.

Water is one of most crucial aspects in a survival situation and have to be carried, especially if you have to make a great physical effort and make a long distance over a few days possibly by foot. High quality water bottles like the ones from Nalgene, Camelback, Klean Kanteen or SIGG have a very low probability to break but in most cases ordinary soda bottles can serve the same purpose. A water bladder like the ones made by CamelBak or Nalgene has the advantage that you can drink easily without having to remove the pack and making a stop. A minimum of two liters of water should be a carried, but depending on the intended route and climate you may too carry more. Where can water be found and is it safe to drink without purification?

Shelter is an important aspect in order to prevent hypothermia and exposure. In order to keep the weight down I suggest either a bivi-bag or a bivanorak as an emergency shelter in a LW-BOB. The Bivanorak and Fjellduk also have the advantage that they can be used both as an poncho and as a Bivi-Bag. If you want to travel light your clothing becomes very important since you don’t carry a sleeping bag, sleeping mattress and tent which makes it possible to improvise shelter in basically any weather condition. Good socks, Shoes that can cope with your local terrain, a Base Layer Shirt that dries easily like merino wool and a wind and rain proof Shell Jacket can compensate too some extent for this lack in equipment.

Survival Knife and Pocket Survival Kit
Some kind of Survival Knife is critical and should also be carried. What type depends on your setting but I would recommend either a Folding Knife, Swiss Army Knife or a Light Weight Fixed Blade Knife. A Pocket Survival Kit contains some additional items that can help you cope with emergencies without taking up much weight or space in a pack.

For navigation a Citymap or Topographical Map can be an important addition depending on how well you know your local terrain. Keeping a small compass on your watch band or choosing a watch with electronic compass like the Suunto Core means that you always have a compass available. A light weight head lamp like the Fenix HP-20, HL-20, Petzl E+LiteZebraLight anglelights / headlamps can make night time movement much easier.

A normal person can survive for quite a long time without food so making it a few days isn’t a real problem, however if you don’t eat anything for a few days your energy level and stamina will be seriously reduced and you will become more vulnerable to hypothermia. Carrying a some energy bars and one freeze dried rations per day can help you keep your energy level up and still keep the weight of your pack low.

Other Equipment
Exactly what you should pack is a personal choice but some additional equipment could also be useful like a compact First Aid Kit, Paracord, Spare batteries, a Big Lighter, some Tinder, a Notebook, Pen, some Cash, a roll of coins and a compact Cooking Vessel. Find a solution that fits your specific conditions and needs.
• A lighter pack makes it easier to walk or run long distances since you will be carrying much less weight than if you carry a fully equipped Bug Out Bag.
• The cost for getting the equipment will also be lower since you won’t have to buy the same amount of equipment.
• Can be carried as an Every Day Carry bag

• A Light Weight Bug Out Bag miss allot of the items that can be needed in a survival situation. Especially in cold weather conditions exposure can kill fast so not having a sleeping bag, sleeping mattress and extra clothing can prove fatal.
• Less equipment also means fewer options.
• A highly skilled individual can compensate for the lack of equipment with the ability to construct shelter, find eatable plants, catch fish and other tactics.

A light weight Bug Out Bag can function either as an alternative or a complement to Comprehensive Bug Out Bag especially in conditions where severe weather and temperatures is a small problem. Since it’s composed of very few items it can be carried as an Every Day Carry Bag. Many larger back-packs have a smaller Day-Pack so it’s fully possible to have a larger back-pack containing the other items in a fully equipped Bug Out Bag and carry the items for Light Weight Bug Out Bag in the Day Pack making it possible to leave the heavier equipment if it would prove necessary.

[ ] Backpack, Gearslinger, Shoulderbag, Waist Bag or Other form of Bag

[ ] Two Water Bottles or Water Bladder for your backpack
[ ] Water Purification Tablets or compact Water Purification Filter

[ ] Bivanorak, Fjellduk, Lightweight Tarp or Lightweight Poncho

Survival Knife
[ ] Fixed Blade Knife, Swiss Army Knife, Folding Knife or Multi Tool

Equipment to build a Fire
[ ] BIC Lighter, Storm Lighter, Fire Steel or Matches in a plastic bag

[ ] Compact Headlamp or Flashlight

Pocket Survival Kit
[ ] Matches
[ ] Fire Steel
[ ] Snare Wire
[ ] Wire Saw
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Button Compass
[ ] Safety Pins
[ ] Whistle
[ ] Candle
[ ] Small LED Lamp
[ ] Compact Knife or Razor Blade
[ ] Fishing Kit
[ ] Pencil
[ ] Water Purification Tablets
[ ] Painkillers
[ ] Anti Diarrhea Tablets
[ ] Antihistamines
[ ] Antibiotics
[ ] Condom or Alok Sak

Possible Extra Equipment
[ ] Paracord
[ ] First Aid Kit and Blister Kit
[ ] Ducttape
[ ] Sewing Kit
[ ] Notebook and Pen
[ ] Spare Batteries
[ ] Passport or ID, Immunization Record Card and some Cash
[ ] Paper Tissues; can be used as Tinder or as Emergency Toilet Paper.
[ ] SPOT, Emergency Strobe, Signal Mirror, Emergency Flares or Chemical Light Sticks
[ ] Extra Battery for your Cellphone or Cellphone Charger

Other Articles:
Light Weight Bug Out Bags - Examples of Setups
Building The Right Bug Out Bag For You
Bug Out Guide and Checklist
Get Home Bag (GHB)
Pocket Survival Kits
Every Day Carry (EDC)