Bugging Out: Packs and bags

By Jay Leeper, W4TFX

Jay Leeper, W4TFX

Jay Leeper, W4TFX

One of the most difficult tasks, and one needing several attempts to find the right one, is choosing a bag or pack that will contain the gear required for a successful go-kit or bug-out bag (BOB).

Consider the bag itself. There are many on the market, from hard shell to military to fabric, and each one has its benefits.

Hard shell packs can preserve items that could be crushed or abused in any other type, and the pack itself may be repurposed in a multitude of ways. A plastic bucket can haul water, be a seat, collect wood or berries, hold fish, and so forth. In snow country, it may be used to construct a hut, by packing it with snow and stacking the results to form a windbreak or walls for a hut. In a common shelter, it can protect valuables and medicine.

A pack with an external frame provides places to strap on tents, sleeping bags, and perhaps a foam ground cloth. It may also be used as a support for the side of a tarp to make an elemental shelter, or a place to hang a solar charger.

A pack also needs to be subtle, not attracting attention during an event. Colors range from blues and greens to bright red and camouflage, so each person’s choice will depend on where it will be used, and the need to attract attention or blend in with the environment.

Size needs to be considered, after deciding the length of time needed and the gear desired. One last thing to be considered is the size of the person using it, and how it is going to be carried. If it is going to be in the trunk of a car, or back of a truck, it may be larger than one that will be placed on a person’s back and carried for a while. Perhaps a fisherman’s vest may provide the pockets and comfort required.

Take time to window-shop all the possibilities. Try on packs and imagine the worst possible condition for it, then look at pack covers. They provide a first line of defense against the weather, and with a good pack, a cover gives the items inside the protection they need.

Also remember, your pack is the cupboard of your house and it works best if you can reach the items you need without a lot of searching, so check for pockets and envelopes, especially for water and a first-aid kit.

When packing, use a lot of smaller bags to hold the items needed. This makes it easier to find what is needed in an emergency, and helps to waterproof the contents. Also, in the case of food, a spill will not go through the entire pack, and it makes it easier to take what you need away from camp should you need to leave the bulk of items behind. Place your most necessary items where they may be reached with a minimum of fuss. For example, a first-aid kit may be placed on top or in a separate pouch.

Next month the topic will be first-aid kits. In an emergency situation, the best action is preventing yourself from becoming a victim and taking care of those who really need it. How will you prepare?

Jay Leeper, W4TFX, aka, The Fox, is an expert on survival, go-kits, and bug-out bags, and a CARC director. His columns appear monthly.

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