Thanks for the info!
Thread: Go Bag 2008 (Contingency Gear)
Thought this might be useful to some folks in OCDO land.
Well fans, it’s that time of year again. For the last few weeks I’ve been reminding folks to check their emergency gear; make sure supplies were fresh and/or updated; add a few new things that have come onto the market; take out a few that have been replaced by something better. The end result (for me) is a Go Bag (or Bugout Bag) that is repacked, resupplied, and (I hope) better than ever. Because such a bag can also serve as an excellent “grab and go” weekend camping backpack – prepacked and ready to go – I felt it was appropriate to review the bag and its contents. The one control statement I have to put out is this: this is MY bag and has contents specific to MY situations and potential emergencies. YOU have to determine what’s right to put in yours. I’ve made a few suggestions below.
Since this is an update to my bag, I'm obviously starting with a previous version. Actually, in my mind, what I was starting with was version 3 and now I've got version 4. The easiest way to make the comparisons was to go back to my last article that described what I was using - start with that and then edit to show my current changes / upgrades. So here we go...
Disclaimer #1: If you can't legally possess or carry any of the following items based on your local, county, state or federal laws, OR your own personal background, then don't. Our recommendations to do so DO NOT release you from the legal ramifications of your own choice to break the law.
Disclaimer #2: The ratings of Good, Better and Best are not meant to indicate that any specific item is better or performs better than any other. The ratings are based upon current pricing, previous testing, and (sometimes) availability. The list of items may change without notice and will most assuredly change with the release of new product items in the future. The lack of inclusion for currently existing items is in no way meant to imply that they are unnacceptable for use.
If you're having a hard time finding a source to acquire specific items you want in your Go Bag, check out Brigade Quartermaster online. Brigade Quartermaster is a well known and reliable retail company that carries many (if not all) of the non-firearms items below.
Handgun: This is a very personal choice that depends on your perceived level of threat and hunting/survival needs. I recommend a pistol in one of the following calibers:
If you prefer a revolver, I recommend .357 Magnum, .44 Special, or .44 Magnum. .38 Special may be acceptable in some situations, but you can shoot that ammo out of a .357 revolver, so you increase your versatility by having the more powerful caliber weapon. Reload ammunition is always a good thing and since you don't know how long any emergency will last, we recommend at least one full box of ammo available, preferably in magazine(s) or speedloaders. To support fast target acquisition and engagement, Borelli Consulting endorses and recommends XS Sights. All of the author's handguns have XS Sights on them. In the photo to the right you can see a convenient carry method that locates a working knife, handgun and flashlight in a single location - on the "tactical" thigh platform. The holster is from BLACKHAWK! as is the flashlight (Night-Ops Gladius shown). The handgun is a Glock Model 19 in 9mm with a Glock Model 17 magazine (two extra rounds). The knife is a Cold Steel Recon Tanto.
Rifle: Whether the primary purpose is hunting or defense will determine your preferred make and model. Bear in mind that nothing says you can't hunt (in an emergency situation) with a semi-automatic weapon in a caliber that is common to battle weapons, i.e. .223 or .308. Unless you are specifically carrying the rifle ONLY for hunting purposes and anticipate NO threat from humans, I recommend that you stay away form such calibers as .22lr, .22Magnum, etc. Lever action weapons are great for hunting, as are bolt action weapons, but neither is good for fast follow up shots if you need the weapon for defense purposes as well. Consider all your potential needs and select a weapon that meets them all as best as possible. Shown below is the AR7 "survival" rifle in .22lr. It's an excellent compact rifle if small game is what you need to hunt during the course of your emergency situation.
Shotgun: I recommend the tried-and-true pump action twelve gauge (12g) shotgun. A 20" slug barrel will work just fine and won't leave you carrying an overly long gun (as you might if you're used to trap and skeet shooting with longer barrels). The variety of 12g ammo available is huge and you should have a supply of each kind of round that you think you might need. For instance, if you think you might end up hunting deer, get slugs. If you think you'll need it for defense, double-ought is probably best if you're NOT a skilled shooter. If you are in law enforcement, Borelli Consulting recommends PolyShok ammo. PolyShok can be used for breaching as well if your skills support doing so. For most types of bird, rabbit, and squirrel hunting, a smaller shot size (7-9) is probably going to be good. Load the weapon with what you MOST anticipate needing and put a side-saddle shell holder on it so you have six more rounds of whatever else you think you might need handy - or even three each of two different types of rounds. Tailor this recommendation to your known / anticipated needs.
[color=""]Author's old reliable shotgun: A Remington 870 pump action 12g w/ Knoxx Stock, BLACKHAWK! three-point sling, extended magazine tube, side saddle shell holder and SureFire 918FA light. It isn't light to carry, but it is versatile thanks to ammo choices. Carrying an extra lamp assembly and battery for the flashlight forend is usually smart.
Spare Undergarments: Two pair of everything as a minimum is what I recommend. Whatever number of pair of underwear and t-shirts you carry, double it for socks. Socks will become vitally important if you are on your feet for any substantial length of time. It's easy to wash them, but getting them dry takes time, so take extra.
Jacket with hood: Fleece is great for warmth, but stinks at keeping you dry. Treated nylon or polyurethane products will keep you dry, but don't breath well and can end up making you sweat even in chilly or cold environments. I recommend that you get a good fleece or sweatshirt type hooded jacket, and wear it under the emergency poncho listed below if you need to stay both warm and dry.
Local Maps: Since you may find yourself having to walk terrain you've never walked before, and are completely unfamiliar with, good maps are a necessity. Additionally, if you can get topographic maps, they will help you with ascertaining your location via visible physical natural characteristics. They will also help you determine where your path of least resistance or greatest safety may lie.
From this point forward, I'll be making recommendations for specific pieces of gear from the bag you carry it all in to knives, food, tools, matches, etc. With each item will be a list of recommendations that are "good", "better" and "best". Often, when I make these recommendations, I am NOT saying that the "best" bag (as an example) is of any better quality or manufacture than the "better" bag. All I'm saying is that when you consider everything you need the bag to do and the desired characteristics (one being cargo capacity for this example), then the "best" bag is just that: best for this particular usage. Moving on...
The Bag: My three recommendations for good, better and best are:
CamelBak Motherlode = good
BlackHawk OpSec X4 = better
CamelBak BFM = Best
At the moment my own personal bag of use is the BlackHawk OpSec X4 backpack. It is large enough to carry everything I have decided I would need to pack and has a hydration system built in which I like (more on hydration below). In the case of the recommendations made for backpacks, cargo capacity is very much a primary consideration. Each has hydration capability and has proven comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. I simply don't need as much space as the CamelBak BFM offers, so I opted for the BlackHawk OpSec X4 (shown above). On the last camping trip I took with my son, I prepped a CamelBak Transformer (shown right) as a Bugout Bag. It had just the bare necessities for overnight survival. If this is all you have available, make do.
Flashlight: Understand this up front - I don't think anyone should have just ONE flashlight. I believe in the military paradigm of "two equals one; one equals none." Have a backup. For law enforcement professionals, 80% of their deadly force encounters happen during hours of darkness or in low levels of light. Criminals PREFER to work in darkness because it allows them to hide. In an emergency situation, the criminals DO come out. A few years back, when Hurricane Isabel came through the middle of the east coast, downed trees cut off the sheriffs' departments' ability to respond to calls for service. The (human) wolves came out to prey on the sheep. Some of us aren't sheep, but if you were out after dark it was obvious that the wolves preferred to "work" at night. That all said:
Night-Ops Flacata 9V = good
SureFire 6P LED = better
Night-Ops Gladius = best
The Better and Best lights are LED driven which allows for adequate amounts of working light for extended periods of time out of each set of batteries. The Night-Ops Gladius has adjustable lighting levels so you can further stretch your battery life by only using the amount of light you need.
Extra batteries should be part of your kit anyway. I have a Gladius as my primary flashlight and a Night-Ops Falcata 6V light as my backup.
Folding Knife: I always have two of these on my person if I'm out of my house anyway. Having another one in my Bugout Bag simply allows me triple redundancy. But again, since your life may very well depend upon your knife performing when you need it most, two is one and one is none.
H&K Ally = good - small, but dependable (with a window punch if you need it).
SOG Trident = better - with auxiliary web cutting blade
Buck SBMF = best - one of the strongest folding lockblade knives I've found.
My primary folding lockblade knife is the Buck SBMF in black (to the right). I have (currently) an H&K Ally (made by Benchmade) as my backup locking folder (shown left).
Fixed blade knife: Because some jobs are just too big for a folding lock blade, OR because the lock blade pivot point will just not be strong enough to take the abuse you're going to subject it to. After Hurricane Katrina, I carried an MOD NightWing for about two weeks in Louisiana. I wasn't carrying it for "combat" purposes, but simply because I was completely unsure what to expect and the capacity of a decent size strong knife with multiple cutting surfaces was potentially invaluable to me.
Cold Steel Recon Tanto = good (shown attached to "tactical" holster platform near top of page)
Mil-Tac M3 = better
MOD NightWing = best
I consider it a toss-up between the MOD Nightwing and the Mil-Tac M3 - but I'm partial to the M3 for a variety of reasons. Either will serve you well and some of you will prefer the versatility of the multiple cutting edges on the Nightwing.
Utility Tool: because cutting might not be the only thing you need to do. Turning screws, cutting wire, tightening nuts (or removing them or both), filing an unknown object, etc. These are all things we use tools for and using a knife blade for most of them is a really bad idea. Thankfully, we live in an age where utility tools are both versatile and affordable. My recommendations are:
Leatherman Fuse = good
Gerber Multi-Plier = better
SOG Power Plier = best
Stay away from utility tools that have small attachments for your Bugout Bag. If you lose one of those small attachments in the sand or on a leaf-covered forest floor, it's GONE. If you really need more than a slotted screwdriver, Philips head screwdriver and a pair of pliers, you probably aren't truly in an emergency survival situation. My SOG Power Plier is carried in the utility pocket of the sheath for the MOD NightWing listed above.
Shelter Material: Sure, it's easy to say, "I have a tent", but it's entirely different to have a tent you can set up in under a few minutes and then tear down in that amount of time or less. Plus, weight and space are a consideration in (or on) your bag. A shelter that protects you from wind and precipitation is good, but often you have to settle for either what you have on hand or what you can afford BEFORE you need it.
Tarp, stakes, paracord = good
Poncho, stakes, paracord = better
Shockpole supported tent = best
The reason I list the poncho as more desirable than a tarp is because you can't wear the tarp without cutting a hole in it. In survival situations I consider versatility of my gear as very valuable. The photo to the right shows the components of the poncho shelter option and the photo below shows it set up as a pup tent. It doesn't take up much space in the bag. I recommend you keep it in an outer pocket for easy access as the sun starts to set.
Hydration System: Okay, I'm not specifying manufacturers here. To me what matters is how much fluid the system will hold and whether or not it's filtered. Bear in mind that although I recommend a minimum capacity of 70 ounces, if all you have (or all you can afford) is a smaller system, then get it. Having SOME water is better than having none and trying to find some. Ask the people who were stuck at the New Orleans SuperDome for days.
Seventy ounce non-filtered = good
Seventy ounce filtered = better
100 ounce filtered = best
There is a company called Hydration Technologies, Inc. that manufacturers an osmosis-driven system. It will filter almost any kind of contaminated or dirty water you can put into it, including urine. I'm not sure about pricing, but if you can afford it, it's probably well worth having in a Bugout Bag. I've got a filtered 100-ounce system with extra disposable 100 bladders from BlackHawk HydraStorm. The one thing that I've now added is a nalgene bottle from BlackHawk (you can get them from CamelBak too) and a SteriPen from HydroPhoton. This device uses UV radiation to sterilize the water. It may not improve the taste but it will make it safe to drink (photo left).
Compass: To work hand-in-hand with the Local Maps above. If you DON'T have maps, but DO know the best general direction to go in, often a compass can help you maintain a straighter line of travel. That cuts down on the amount of time and energy you spend covering unknown ground.
Suunto A-10 Partner II = Good
Military Compass = Better
Military Tritium Compass = Best
I carry TWO of the military issue compasses. I fully expect one to break or fail when I need it most.
Fire Starter Material: Trust me on this one. I have been out in the elements on cold January days when everything you could think about burning has been saturated and you can't get it to light to save your life - which is what you might be trying to do. SO, pack something to help you get those fires going.
Vaseline soaked cotton batting = good. Just rub some Vaseline into cotton balls and see how many you can stuff into a film canister. Check it regularly since Vaseline is a petroleum based product and plastic may not hold up to it in the long run.
Fire disks = best. You can purchase these from numerous sport / outdoor stores and online. They are available in packs from 12 to 108. Each disk is about 4" x 1" and burns for 20 - 30 minutes. You can break the disks up into quarters and use a single quarter to start a small cook fire. That means 12 disks can help you start 48 fires.
Fishing supplies: Virtually anywhere you can find running water, a pond or a lake you stand a decent chance of having a food source. Fishing doesn't call for a lot of complicated equipment.
Hooks, line, weights, 10" round wood bar = good
Add cork bobber pieces = better
Add lures = best
All I have in my bag is a film canister containing twelve hooks of various sizes, 30' of 120lb test line, and some 1 ounce lead weights. I listed the 10" round wood bar because it permits you to wrap the line around something and it gives you something to hold if the fish starts pulling - which all do. The bigger they are, the harder they pull - but the more people they'll feed. I don't carry a piece of wood because I live in a heavily wooded area and I figure I can find a round piece of wood up to six feet long if I need it as a fishing pole. The 120lb test line may be a "bit much" in the way of required strength, but it's what I have and I don't find it to be too much.
Rope: Is invaluable. When you're crossing unfamiliar territory, having a good rope and several locking D-rings can save you some time and trouble.
100-feet of 9mm rope = good
100-feet 10-11mm low static elongation dry-treated rope = best
I pack / attach 100-feet of 10mm rope and six locking D-rings to my bag.
Gloves: Are mandatory, especially if you're actually rappelling or doing other rope work. Depending on your climate / weather conditions, you may also want the gloves to insulate your hands from wet and / or cold. The type of gloves you select is entirely a personal choice and has to meet your anticipated needs. I carry a pair of BlackHawk HellStorm SOLAG gloves for rope work, and a pair of Damascus thin neoprene gloves for general warmth.
Survival Food: No matter what food source(s) you might find along the way, you will have to be eating while you travel at some point, and you may not find your food sources right away. Having an emergency supply of food is good. How much you decide you need to pack and carry should be determined by how long you anticipate it taking you to WALK out of the affected emergency area. In Version 3 of my Bugout Bag I had power bars, Hoo-Ah Bars and MREs listed. I've done away with the MREs. They took up too much space. What I've done is limited my pack to Hoo-Ah Bars and ASAP energy drink mix. This nutritional supplement makes your water taste like chocolate milk (and it's better heated up to taste like hot chocolate). You can cover your nutritional needs for up to a week with a supply of Hoo-Ah bars and ASAP drink mix in the same space as three MREs (or less). I keep a Hoo-Ah! Bars and a couple packages of ASAP mix packed in a one-gallon ziplock bag. It's not packed in my bag, but is handy in the kitchen so I can grab it on the way out. All told, I estimate it as three days' worth of emergency rations. The below photo shows you the ASAP nutritional mix package.
Now, the following is a list of a couple of generic items that you can purchase online, in hardware stores, etc. I consider each of them essential, but since the cost can be so low, they are pretty easy to obtain and not have to be of specific manufacture or quality.
Solar Still Material: This doesn't require much. A two-foot square (two feet on each side) piece of clear plastic, and a plastic cup (any camp cup will do) is all you really need.
Strike Anywhere matches: I can still find these in my local hardware stores. I carry a box of them in a sandwich-size ziplock baggy in my Bugout Bag.
Flint & Steel: Can be bought on eBay for as little as a buck. Have it. If you run out of matches, or they get wet and won't light, you can still strike sparks into your fire starter material.
Paracord: Otherwise known as 550 cord. It's nice and strong without taking up a ton of space. I carry two 50-foot lengths in my pack.
Duct tape: I left this out of my last article on this topic and got several emails about it. I'm not recommending carrying a whole roll, but get an empty toilet-paper tube, fold it in half lengthwise and start winding duct tape around it. Carry about twenty feet and you should have enough to keep you for awhile.
Okay; all that leaves is a
First-Aid Kit. Because of the massive possibilities for included items, manufacturers, models, etc that are involved just in discussing BASIC first-aid kits, I'm going to put this topic in its own article. That article will cover what we consider to be the necessary pieces of first-aid equipment in a Basic, Intermediate and Advanced First-Aid Kit. All will be limited to what you can carry as part of your Bugout or Go Bag.
Thanks for the info!
Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."
Good reminder... I need to work on my bag.