In just a couple of weeks a lot of you are going to be making New Year’s resolutions and according to our good old government (not sure why they have to have a webpage to tell us this) the most common resolution is to lose weight. This is a great goal for a lot of people but as preppers we can look at this another way too. Maybe it’s time to trim some pounds off your Bug Out Bag and save your back in the process. For a lot of us, the mythical – perfect bug out bag is one part Swiss army knife, one part hardware store and one part supermarket with a dash of your favorite clothing outfitter thrown in for good measure. Over time in our efforts to be prepared for anything, we have lost sight of what this bag is meant for and traded common sense for comfort, at the expense of weight.
What choo talkin bout Willis?
In my research as a prepper I have watched a lot of YouTube videos about Bug out bags from people all over the world and in many of them you get very well-meaning people who put together pages of items that you simply don’t need. Others have items that could be lighter or who carry too much of a single item when that isn’t necessary. I myself am a well-meaning person so here is my take on some simple steps you can take to lighten your bug out bag but before I get into that, I want to give you my opinion on what a bug out bag should be in the first place.
What is a bug out bag for?
A bug out bag has been called by a lot of names. I have heard I.N.C.H bag (I’m Never Coming Home). G.O.O.D bag (Get Out Of Dodge), the 72-Hour bag, Go Bag and others that crop up from time to time when I think people are just trying to create something new and trendy (S.N.A.P – Seriously Need Another Plan). Whatever you call it, the bug out bag concept was envisioned as a bag to carry everything you will need to LIVE for 72 hours if you only have that bag on your back and nothing else in the world. Why did I put the emphasis on live? That is because a lot of people start throwing everything but the kitchen sink in their packs and it is one of the reasons why I wrote the post “Is your bug out bag going to get you killed?”
When you start adding items with minimal practical use or perhaps less likelihood of keeping you alive then you start adding weight. Do this enough times and your bug out bag becomes an unwieldy mess that can cause injuries or worse, get you killed. So what are some ways we can prevent that from happening?
Don’t carry too much water
Unless you live in the desert and I know that some of you do, water should be something that you know how to find and can easily disinfect to make it drinkable. For the large majority of us, packing 3 days’ worth of water is suicide in terms of size and weight and it is really unnecessary. Again, if you live in a desert I am not talking to you, but you really need to evaluate your plans also.
Water sources are everywhere and you only need a good water filter to make all but the nastiest water perfectly safe for drinking. I like pump filters like the MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter and have taken this on several backpacking trips because they are simple and filter water very quickly. In terms of sheer weight and even space reduction, the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is a real champ though and in those respects it kicks even decently sized filters like the Miniworks to the curb. The Miniworks weighs 1 pound. The Sawyer mini weighs 2 ounces.
For water I would carry one full litter bottle and have one plastic bladder that I would use to collect water that I need to filter with my Sawyer. Nalgene water bladders weigh almost nothing empty and can roll up to fit in tiny spaces. My plan is to find and filter water as I need it along the way. Could you boil your water instead and maybe save these few ounces or use water treatment tablets? Of course, but you have to have a fire, keep something to boil it in, wait for it to boil, then cool down, lather rinse repeat or deal with the weird taste of those tablets. The filter is the easiest fastest way to go for me and the Sawyer will filter over 100,000 gallons! That is enough to keep you alive for over 200 years if my math is right.
Don’t pack like you are going on vacation
Too many bug out bag lists will contain a spare pair of boots and another change of clothes. Do you need more clothes to live? Maybe if you are bugging out from a nudist colony and you don’t have any on, but you should already have some clothes on. Maybe you need to adjust your wardrobe and put on a good pair of boots before you bug out, but packing another set of clothes takes up space and adds weight; especially if you are packing heavy winter clothes.
Dress in layers and take items that will compensate for a lot of additional items. I would bring a pair of socks so you always have a dry pair, set of clean underwear and not much else. If it was cold I would have a base layer(s) and maybe a fleece, but I might have that on my body anyway. Clothes shouldn’t be packed in place of shelter; you should deal with that separately.
What about my camping towel, deck of cards, favorite coffee cup and my travel pillow? Leave all of that stuff at home. This pack should only have the essentials if your goal is truly to have the least amount of weight you can. If you are running from everything you know for some reason you have bigger problems than a pillow and you will never pack everything you need in all scenarios for all situations so why try?
Use a tarp instead of a tent
Tents can easily weigh 5 pounds so they are prime opportunities for reducing weight. One of the simplest alternatives to packing a tent is to pack either a rain fly or tarp. Tents do not offer much in the way of protection from the elements unless you have a serious mosquito problem and primarily they are for keeping the rain off of you while you sleep and maybe affording some degree of privacy.
Written by: PAT HENRY – continue at THE DAILY SHEEPLE