Spring is here and in additional to repairing some storm damage to the house and yard, a review of my GOOD bag was accomplished.
Definitions of a BOB [Bug Out Bag] v GOOD [Get Out Of Dodge]bag can vary; I await the OED’s definition before complaining about the confusion between the two. Needless to say, the actual bag’s volume and weight is always more than anticipated. A few day’s supply of MRE’s may not weigh much, but they take up a lot of room. 100 rounds of 308 may not take up much space, but they sure are heavy! Getting the right bag for you is up to you, and for most requires a bit of trial and error. I ended up with a backpack from Eberlestock which has a built in scabbard for my long rifle, and a few other goodies. I keep thinking that I should have went with a model with a bit more storage area, but the damn thing weighs 80 lbs without the rifle as it is, any bigger and I would get about 2 feet carrying it before I blew out a knee or something. It’s big enough for me. Others may prefer the tried and true military duffle bag and others may prefer other variations on the theme. I hope you have one, and that you keep an open mind to changing it as your needs change. And remember, you can’t carry all you need.
Some improvements that work for me have come about from packing, repacking and hiking a bit (using weights in place of rifles and sidearm).
One. Ditch the tent and use a waterproof bivy bag (bivouac sack). It is usually much lighter than a tent and much more versatile; it can be more easily concealed under brush or partially covered by dirt than a tent if concealment is necessary. It can also be utilized as a sleeping bag on its own if you run into someone that is in need en route and the weather permits. If your plan includes a tent for your group, still consider a bivy bag in case you get separated. As long as we’re talking about sleeping bags, pick up a silk (preferred over cotton) liner to add some warmth if needed and also to keep the inside of the bag a bit cleaner. It’s weight is negligible. Stash the bivy bag and sleeping bag in a waterproof bag and lash it on to your knapsack wherever it works best for you.
Two. Your choice of firearms must be carefully thought out; the weight of ammo needs be minimized by using the fewest caliber weapons you can. I have opted for a scoped semi-auto 308 that takes me out to 600 yards for defense (I doubt I will see deer but it could happen) and that stays packed until needed. The 308, in a defensive mode, punches through car doors and wooden walls far better a 5.56 round as found in most AR clones. For more immediate use I have went with FN’s PS90. The PS90 carbine is short, light and rapidly deploys and will be carried in a sling; accuracy is great in the under 200 yrd range and the 50-round magazines can’t be beat. My side arm is a Glock 30, a 45 caliber pistol.
This combination leaves me with 3 different calibers and I want to simplify things. I have been considering 2 options. I could by FN’s Five-seveN pistol which uses the same 5.7 mm round as the carbine. I would prefer to use a 40 or 45 caliber pistol, but the tradeoff is better logistics. The other option I am considering is to change out the PS90 for a Kriss Super V -- if it proves to be reliable over time. In the long, using a more common caliber like ther 45 will be a plus. The 45 round will be more easily obtained if I run low, and barter better (than the 5.7 mm round that is somewhat unique to FN firearms). There is something about having 50 round mags that make think I’ll be getting the Five-seveN pistol. Or just carry the extra weight.
As long as we’re talking firearms, I would also suggest a light-weight bullet resistant vest (IIA). They will not stop a round from a rifle but will stop most pistol rounds. Do not get cocky wearing one of these; there is still plenty of body not covered and they don’t stop stabbing wounds (they will help a bit with a slashing). They are hot and uncomfortable but can save your life. For those who feel firearms won’t be necessary, I hope you’re right but I don’t think so. That argument is shelved for now.
Three. The technological advances of flashlights in the last few years has been nothing less than unbelievable and needs more thought than throwing in a couple of lame flashlights from the local stores. 200+ lumen flashlights are now affordable. But remember that sometimes less is more. For the times when you need a big light with a lot of throw, an economical way to go is to upgrade your MagLite or Surefire with a “Malkoff Device” [http://www.malkoffdevices.com/] which is a state of the art drop-in replacement LED bulb. Not only do you get a much brighter light, but the burn time is longer and the new generation LED bulb’s lifetimes far exceed krypton. My 3 cell C battery Maglite went from gathering dust in a bottom drawer to my goto flashlight when one of my dogs jumps the fence. It throws a very tight beam easily 150 yards.They also have drop-in replacement bulbs for other quality lights. I am busily saving up for many things, one of which is a 2nd or 3rd generation night vision goggle. Try to standardize the size of batteries to save weight and make logistics a bit easier. Note well the use of a flashlight will disclose your location, sometimes that can be good, sometimes not-so-good. Make sure to know the difference. Store your flashlights empty of batteries and batteries stored with some electrical tape over the ends. Batteries can be used to start a fire by making a loose strand with some steel wool with tinder dropped on it, and then touching the (+) and (-) ends of a battery with the strand of steel wool. Practice it!
Four. Carrying MRE’s is a problem because of the volume. Not carrying MRE’s is a problem because foraging is gonna suck. I don’t think foraging will include larger game like deer but rather smaller game like squirrels, birds (everybody will have their favorite recipe for crow!) and other little critters not currently frequently thought as food. For this, I suggest packing a quality sling shot. They are quiet and can be used in populated areas more easily than a firearm. Less wastage too. They’ll make great barter items. Make sure to have tinder (fat wood and many other products) and a fire steel for cooking that yummy squirrel stew.
Water is also too heavy to carry several day’s worth if you’re on foot. Carry a ‘reasonable’ amont along with a water purifier or tablets. A reasonable amount will be dictated by your local environment – access to streams and the like. The less naural water to filter, the more water on your back.
Five: It’s time to rotate out the winter garb and replace with (lighter!!) spring and summer clothes. I have become a huge fan of man-made synthetics for their ease of washing and compact packing. My base layer in any season wicks. I’ve taken out my heavier mid-level stuff and replaced with lighter tops; the long johns got packed away! I’ve kept my hardshell outercoat and pants for wind and rain protection.The weight you save may be negated by the addition of DEET and Permethrin to keeps bugs like ticks away. Might as well use some Permethrin on your pants, socks and shirts before you pack them. I add a pair of sneakers to the summer bag for either light hiking or camp-wear when the warmth of hiking boots aren’t needed.
Six: Other electronics like a radio need to get in the bag in a protective case. Two-way radios like a hand-held CB would be far better but I know little more than “good buddy” and Rubber Duck as far as CBs are concerned. Learning more about hand-held CB radio is on my to-do list. Again, think ahead and try and use the same battery types employed in your flashlights and illuminated scope. Also consider buying a solar recharging unit for your batteries; I am waiting for them to become more affordable. As mentioned above, NVG’s are on the list too.
I also checked also the “stable” items in the bag like the first aid (Celox is a must have!) kit, 550 cordage, work gloves, hearing protection (several pairs of plugs, one set of muffs), hygiene stuff (I finally cut my toothbrush in half to save weight). I oiled my camp saw, Gerber survival knife (Gerber 22-01400 LMF II Survival Knife, a bit heavy but built to last a few generations) multi-tool, and my SOG SEAL survival knife and other goodies. My little foldable shovel is plastic and needed no maintanence. I also checked my copies of my driver’s license, passport, and other forms of ID and added another $100.00 to my cash stash. Which reminds me to look into buying silver to replace the cash.
Is this more than necessary? I hope the whole thing is unnecessary. But I have witnessed from afar Katrina, earthquakes in Chile and a tsunami that devastated Asia. I perhaps read too much about the growing debt in relation to the GNP, pay too much attention to the threats of the nearly-nuclear Iran government. I watch our President, and Congress treat terroristic governments with honor, and treat democracies with contempt. This week Islamic radicals have somehow been distanced from terrorism, according to the present administration. I feel a bit less safe with such Orwellian proclamations. The possibility of being in a disaster, natural or man-made, is well above zero.
I hope we all can have a good laugh over this in 30 years. Until then, I have an obligation to be prepared for the worse.
Partial list of handy websites:
Rifles, carbines and pistols: http://www.fnherstal.com/index.php?id=176
The Krsiss carbine: http://www.kriss-tdi.com/
Falshlights, lots of them: http://www.lighthound.com/index.html
Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership: http://www.jpfo.org/
Assorted gear: http://www.botachtactical.com/ (great prices, lousy customer service)