Bug Out Bags; Why!

Over the last few years I have read many articles and opinions published to various mediums. I have also listened to as many people expound their own philosophy on the subject of Bug Out Bags, or BoBs for short. Some of these commentators are considered “experts” and some merely “interested amateurs”. A good many of them have no real experience in travelling long distances with weight on their body … and yes, I discount most recreational hikers by mentally cataloguing them in the group of “no practical experience”.  As a former Infantry Soldier-turned-Medic, from an Army modelled upon the “Light Infantry” model, I have carried quite a bit of weight over varying distances and terrain. Some of the terrain the average Infantryman is asked to negotiate would challenge all but the mountain goats in the hills or the various ape species negotiating the jungle canopy.

So, ‘BoBs’.  I quite often see people posting pictures of their load-outs asking for opinions. My opinion is invariably “that is too heavy”. I see multiple of various items like knives, water filtration and so on. The mentality or mantra being taught out there is that “two is one, one is none”. This means that if you have one knife, you will somehow manage to lose it, break it or otherwise render it unserviceable and therefore must increase the weight of your kit by having six or seven blades. This goes across the board with people expecting to lug all this weight about and we’re talking of tens of kilos. One guy bragged that his pack was 40+ kilos; when challenged about physically carrying that weight any distance responded by saying that as a kid he’d carried extra “juice boxes” a kilometre to school each day in his school bag to sell them at a dollar profit so he knew all about carrying heavy packs. I say, Good luck with that one sunshine!

Let me make this simple. The biggest killer in a survival/bug-out situation will be fatigue and folks, let me tell you, a 5kg load will feel like 15kg by the time you have managed to walk 5 kilometres. When was the last time any of you, the readers, walked any more than 1000mtrs (that is 1 kilometre) in one go? I know that a lot of my readers will be former military and good proportion of them, Grunts (Infantry) so you guys and girls may “proceed directly to go and collect $200”.

Of the rest of my readers, if you have a serious survival/prepper bent, well then, let me give you a solid piece of advice. Before you buy and load that BoB, develop a plan.

Remember the “7 P’s”!  “Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”.

Step one should be to sign up for a gym membership and tell the personal trainer that you want to focus of a healthy mix of endurance training with the weight lifting. Tell them that you want to be able to walk 40km (~25 miles) with 15kg (33lbs) on your back, a day, for several consecutive days. We in the military were trained to carry weight incrementally. I know of Grunts on operations in war zones carrying 60-70kg (132-154lbs) and I myself have carried my own body weight where I needed two of my mates to lift my pack on to my shoulders. We in the military, across all trades, trained harder than we expected to fight and so should the average survivalist/prepper.

Once your fitness starts to improve, buy a good pair of boots and multiple pairs of good socks. Educate yourself about foot maintenance. Then you can move on to try a few different packs to walk with … ask your friends to borrow packs if you need to. Put 5kg (11lbs) in them and walk 5km (3miles). See how the different ones feel. If you must buy a pack without being able to walk with it, buy a smaller pack, often referred to as a “day pack/sack” and make sure you pay good money for it. Never ever buy on the cheap. I for one do not own a BoB. If I can’t survive with what I walk around with daily (often referred to as EDC or Every Day Carry) then I am screwed and a dump truck full of gear would not really help me. Keep it light!!!!

On the mantra of “two is one” ad so on. I don’t discount it out of hand, however, I tend to look at those people with this thinking as planning to fail. They are planning to lose or break things. That is a mentality that I cannot subscribe to. If that way of thinking is so valid, why do Soldiers only get issued one of each piece of what I call “primary” kit; things like rifles, pistols, bayonets? We are issued one of each and taught how to employ it correctly, maintain it to a very high standard and most importantly, we’re taught to secure our kit against theft, loss etc. Start learning “how” to employ your gear rather than grabbing stuff off the shelf that looks the part. Make sure everything has a place on your person or in your BoB and that anything you carry has more than one use.

I will summarise by using the obligatory list. My short list of considerations on BoBs!

  1. Start with a good plan,
  2. Improve your fitness first, concentrating on endurance,
  3. Your kit starts with a good pair of boots and socks,
  4. Don’t carry a BoB, learn to survive with Every Day Carry,
  5. If you must carry a BoB, make it as small/light as possible,
  6. Develop a positive mental outlook with regard to keeping your gear S&S (Safe and Serviceable),
  7. Having a good BoB is useless without the 7 P’s and other skills such as navigation, hygiene in the field etc. and,
  8. Carry good toilet paper and a means to dig a hole deep enough to bury your excrement!


Remember, the day you need this stuff, you will be in the worst place possible to start from. It is “Murphy’s Law”. So, if you carry your gear religiously everywhere and are ready to go at a moment’s notice, then the situation will start the day you’re at the beach with the family and all you have is your bathers and a towel! Plan on starting from that point.




Here endeth the lesson!

AJ sends.