I have just finished watching a video on YouTube where someone in a woodland environment, describing themselves as a ‘prepper’ was showcasing some kit that would cost a King’s ransom.
Gearing up may not be the way
Whilst it is always fun to get new ‘toys’ and try them out when it comes to a SHTF situation, gearing up may not be the right way to go. This person was clearly concentrating on getting the highest quality, lightweight equipment to fill a bug out bag with.
By the time I got to the end of the video I was thinking, that is all well and good but, how practical is it for more than a leisure trip?
Work with the environment not against it
Whilst things like roll-up solar panels are nice if you’re having a weekend in the woods and you want to keep your electronics charged, for longer term solutions where you are truly bugging out, it is just dead weight in your bag.
What we have to do is adapt our thinking the new world we will find ourselves in rather than cling on to old ways. That may seem counter-intuitive, so let’s just spend a little time exploring that.
The balloon has gone up, the SHTF and you have to get from your current location to another place. This could be a pre-determined rendezvous point with family members, a secondary location where you know you will be safe, or just somewhere far enough away from the other crisis where you can stay until the problems are resolved. Whatever it is, you’re at point ‘A’ and you need to get to point ‘B’.
Following the premise of the video, you have to travel on foot. You will manually haul whatever you take with you in your load bearing system. In other words, you want to be carrying as little as possible to safely do what you need to do. Let’s strip it right back to basics.
- First aid kit
If you are walking a decent distance carrying a pack on your back you will sweat and lose water. That needs to be replaced either by drinking a clean supply you are carrying or having the means to make a water supply of unknown quality drinkable. Water is heavy to carry, but it is essential to life.
Like any engine, your body needs fuel. You need to be carrying high energy foodstuffs that will give you body plenty of fuel to keep moving. This foodstuff needs to be as compact as possible and preferably as light as possible.
As night falls, the temperature drops and you need to have a method of keeping warm. The simplest way is to layer up with clothes. Do not forget a hat! Most of your body heat is lost through your head. (Think about insulating the loft or attic.) Another source of warmth is fire. So having multiple ways of starting a campfire, if it is safe to do so, should also go in the bag. Carrying pre-prepared tinder takes up very little weight/room and can often help greatly in getting a fire going quickly. Once you have a fire, you can cook warm food and drinks. Ideally, you also want two spare sets of clothes to change into.
The immediate thought when it comes to a shelter, depending upon the environment, would be a tent. However, if doesn’t have to be. You can make your own shelter quite easily in the woods if you know what you are doing. Also, an urban environment may offer many opportunities for shelter if you are opportunistic. The main purpose of a shelter is to protect you from the elements, but it can also provide concealment if you need it as well. Whatever environment you are in, use it to your advantage. What already exists that you can exploit?
When it comes to navigation, the old tools are the best. A paper map and compass for the area you need to travel. That is assuming you don’t already know how to get to where you want to be. (If walking alone for leisure purposes I do take a GPS unit with me and every so often, check my GPS location matches where I think I am on the map.)
First Aid kits are essential. They don’t need to be rucksack sized paramedic style bags, but you do need to think very carefully about what potential injuries you face and how to treat them.
Also, remember that to prolong the battery life only turn devices on when you actually use them. The number of people I have seen panic because the person does not answer at the other end of the phone call you would not believe. Do NOT try to make a voice call. Switch on. Send a text message. Give a time in the message when you will check for a response. Turn the phone off. Remember, at times of crisis mobile phone networks get flooded with calls. Text messages get queued in the system and provided you get the ‘sent’ response on your handset, you can turn your phone off and the message will still get through.
All of the above comes before any fancy kit solar kit in my bugout bag.
However, a trip for leisure? That’s a very different story.