This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
When I started being interested in preparedness, I read everything I could in books and blogs to find out what I need to do. For the purpose of this article, the bug out bag is the one you will take with you to get out of your home in a disaster, not knowing if you are coming back anytime soon.
I had the strong desire to prepare all at once, and as soon as possible. Every survival site I read stressed the importance of having a bug out bag, or “get out of dodge” (good) bag. So I jumped in right away. Looking back, I probably should have spent a bit more time researching instead of rushing.
Here are some of the most common mistakes with bug out bags.
1. Buying a pack without trying it out thoroughly. I saw this pack that were highly recommended by another website, and it looked like it had a lot of room. The guy who reviewed it said it was a similar style to something the military used, so I figured, they go outdoors a lot so it must be good. And it looked cool.
When the bag came in I was fascinated with all the compartments. Then I tried to carry it. The bag weighs about 5 lbs by itself! When you add all the contents it got so huge, and not at all suitable to my small frame.
Fortunately, my nephew needed a backpack when he came to visit us. He is 6’2 and built like a football player. The pack fit him just fine so I gave it to him.
Lessons for this mistake: Try out a backpack thoroughly before you buy it.
- Visit a sporting goods store like REI or Academy. Have a salesperson fit you with the right size and shape. Not all bags are built for your stature, and carrying a pack that does not fit will eventually start bothering you.
- Place weights inside and walk around. These stores actually have bean bags of various weights that they fit in your pack to simulate carrying a full backpack.
- Walk around the store for 10-15 minutes and see how it feels. I actually got a little sore around the shoulders and legs after trying out so many but eventually I found the right one.
2. Choosing a bag that is attention grabbing.
In my opinion, the bag should be low-key, in muted colors so it does not attract a lot of attention. If you are trying to evacuate, you don’t want to garner attention from the wrong crowd, who may assume your are someone who has lots of supplies and an easy target. Choose plain brown, black, navy or grey in a nondescript design.
Don’t pack items outside that bag that jingle or chime, which also attract attention.
3. Not carrying enough water
Water is one of the top needs for survival and so you need to pack enough of it. You may even have a water purifier or iodine tables but if there is no water source, you are in big trouble.
4. Packing too much stuff
Although the rule of thumb with packing the bag is that it should be a maximum of 1/3 or your weight, that does not mean you will be comfortable carrying your bag. People tend to overpack. For a free tool that will help you plan your bug out bag contents, check out The Bug Out Bag website’s Plan Your Bug Out Bag Contents with our Free Tool. Imagine if you were packing to walk out of the city in dangerous conditions. You don’t want to be over-encumbered at a time like this. Choose your items carefully and reduce weight before anything happens.
5. Not having a bug out bag for the kids.
Even though you will end up carrying most of your kids’ supplies, they can still use a small bag where they can store their snacks, small toys or stuffed animal that will give them comfort in an emergency.
6. Not getting into shape
A couple of weeks ago, I was driving in a busy street when I noticed a guy walking along the sidewalk with a full backpack.. It was early in the morning, but the temperature was already climbing, and the heavy humidity was making it hard to breath. The guy, appeared to be in his 40s-50s, was dressed in a t-shirt, walking shorts and hiking boots. He was walking briskly, but he did not look like a hitch-hiker or traveller. I figured he had to be getting in shape, either for a backpacking trip, or for a walk out of the city, in case of disaster. I concluded this guy has the right idea, getting in shape before an actual emergency forced him to walk out.
Even though getting in shape is not technically having to do with the bag, being able to carry it comfortably is crucial.
7. Not having anything to repair the bag
You should carry a small sewing kit in your bag so you can repair it if a strap breaks or a tear develops. A heavy duty sewing awl would be ideal, but a small sewing kit with enough needles of various sizes will suffice.
8. Being unfamiliar with the contents and compartments of the bag
Make it a point to check the contents of your bag at least every season. Change the clothing to the appropriate season and weed out old items that may have leaked, dried up or expired.
Be familiar with all the compartments of your bag and organize it. That way when you need a specific item, you know exactly where to find it. You’ll avoid having to look in each pocket and having to pull out contents.
9. Packing sharp objects without proper covering.
Axes, knives and machetes are often included in bug out bags, either inside or outside. Make sure they are sheathed or at least have the edges wrapped to avoid injuring someone or tearing up the the bag.
10. Waiting until SHTF to pack
Don’t wait until an emergency or disaster to pack. If you do not want to have a packed bag, make a list of everything you need while you are thinking straight and keep the list in the bag. At the very least have all your items inventoried so you know where everything is.
Hopefully, you will never need to utilized a bug-out bag, but if you do, you’ll be glad you put some thought into packing your bag properly.
© Apartment Prepper 2014
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