I am spending an increasing amount of each morning answering e-mails with questions about a variety of survival related subjects. Most often, they are from people who have picked up a copy of my book (Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag) and have some follow-up questions. I find myself always saying, “That’s a really good question,” and I’m sure there are others out there that could benefit from the answer. Consequently, I have decided to start a post series titled Questions from the FRONTLINES where I list and answer these questions (anonymously of course) in a regular blog post for all to read – and offer feedback of their own.
With that said, many SURVIVAL TOPICS – especially BUGGING OUT are very subjective topics. Oftentimes, there are no right and wrong answers – rather preferences. These answers are my personal opinions and some of you may not feel the same way. This is fine and expected. Voice your opinions in the comments – tactfully, of course.
Questions from the FRONTLINES
QUESTION: I am a beginner at creating my BOB and am in the process of obtaining items for my families bags. This is a fundamental question about a crisis and how you prepare… at what point do you have to think about Staying At Home Prepping, an 72-Hour Bug Out Bag (I assume to get to either a shelter or a predetermined location) and an INCH Bag? I am about ready to purchase my primary bag and am trying to determine what size to get, something around 2500-3500 cubic inches for a BOB or something like a Bergen which would be more for an INCH bag. I only want to purchase one bag and one set of equipment for the bag. Do you plan for an BOB Bag and hope you only need it for 72 hours and if it is longer you fend for yourself or do you plan for an INCH bag knowing you might be overkilling it a bit but you can sustain yourself for much longer?
Creek’s ANSWER: First of all, for those of you who have never heard the phrase INCH bag, it means your I’M NEVER COMING HOME bag and is designed for LONGER than 72 hours. These are some great questions which I will address in TWO sections:
Section # 1: STAYING AT HOME PREPPING – otherwise known as BUGGING IN
You should always be thinking about this. Hopefully you will never have to abandon your home. Ideally, you will be able to stay at home if something crazy (natural or caused by man) does happen. You must think about how to address the SURVIVAL CORE SIX within your home in the event of a disaster or grid-down scenario. The CORE SIX are SHELTER, WATER, FIRE, FOOD, FIRST AID( and Hygiene) and SELF DEFENSE. This includes all kinds of considerations such as heating, food storage, water storage, electricity, home protection and medicines. It can be a bit overwhelming to think about this if you are just beginning. Here is how I suggest starting. First tackle a few critical categories for a 1-week GRID OUT time period. If you are forced to go COMPLETELY OFF GRID FOR 1 WEEK, make sure:- You can heat your house for 1 week - You have enough water for 1 week (or have a back-up system in place to get it)(i.e. hand well pump) - You have enough food storage for 1 week - You have a supply of prescription meds for 1 week - You have a plan for disposing of waste (human waste & trash waste) - All of this: FOR YOUR WHOLE FAMILY
Prepping for 1 WEEK in the small list above covers you for THE VAST MAJORITY of all GRID DOWN Disasters and will really force you to at least get a plan of some sort in place – which is more than 99% of people out there. It will also force you to really start thinking about preparedness. However, you wouldn’t be asking about an INCH bag if you didn’t believe something more catastrophic is looming (or at least possible).
Prepping starts to become a lifestyle once you start planning for longer periods of GRID DOWN or INFRASTRUCTURE FAILURE. You’ll start to consider SYSTEM SOLUTIONS rather than STORAGE SOLUTIONS. You will begin to think about things like Solar Power (or NO POWER) living, Off-Grid Water System (Water Well with Hand Powered Pump/Rain Harvesting/Fresh Water Spring), Wood Burning Stove (for heat and cooking), Gardening & Canning, Partnerships with others, and Self Defense & Hunting Tools (and training).
Bottom line, BUGGING IN should always be an option and you should be prepared to do so. It happens to people all the time. Even harsh winter storms can take out power and trap you inside for a few days. Many disasters, though, can drive you away from your home. This transitions us to the next section.
Section # 2: BOB & INCH Bags
My thoughts on INCH bags….hmmmmm…. As a GUY and SURVIVAL INSTRUCTOR, I love the IDEA of an INCH BAG. However, as a practical survivalist, I know that if you are NEVER COMING HOME or are trying to SURVIVE LONG TERM, you will want more than a Back Pack – I don’t care what you have in it. My answer to this question is simple. Focus on a 3-Day BOB (approx 4000 cu. in.) and find a good Bug Out Location (BOL). I’m a huge proponent of outfitting a BOB to last longer than 3-DAYS, but it just isn’t practical to live out of it long term. Your BOL is the place to store your long term survival tools. However, the addition of a few key items in a BOB can really extend your “SURVIVAL TIME-LINE” if necessary. These revolve primarily around WATER & FOOD. A good water purification system can keep you in fresh drinking water for months. Some basic hunting and food prep tools can also help supplement any food items in your pack. A good fishing kit with frog gig, a .22 pistol, some snares, a decent cook pot and some spices could all drastically improve your food situation – especially when combined with some basic Wild Edible Plant/Root Training (shameless plug).
You can’t prep for everything. We live in a crazy world that’s getting crazier by the second. I find it easier to set manageable goals with time limits when it comes to prepping: for example, a BUG OUT BAG for 3-DAYs, Food and Water Storage for 2 weeks at home – it’s very difficult to prep for completely open ended time-lines or vast scenarios. I hope I’ve answered your questions without raising MORE!
QUESTION: OK so we got and read your bug out book and we are looking to build ours for our family of 5 (two adults 3 children 8,6 and 2 years old) and our two fidos a large mastiff pit mix and a med brittany lab mix. We are lost on what to do for shelter. All backpacking tents are max 4 people, that may hold the 5 of us if none of my children grow. But realistically we are afraid we will need a bigger tent. Any ideas to fit the 5 of us at a reasonable weight for our BOB. We live in XXXXXX,MO and also have the long cold winters and hot long summers with very wet springs and falls. So a 3 or 4 season is needed.
Creek’s ANSWER: You raise a good question. Sometimes, there just doesn’t seem to be a perfect solution for certain scenarios. After some thought, my personal choice if I were in your shoes would be to pack 2 light weight 2-3 man tents – 1 in the main pack and 1 with the 2nd strongest person’s pack. I would practice setting these up so that the doors are next to or close by each other so that it somewhat feels like 2 rooms to the same tent if at all possible. I hate the idea of separating the family in 2 tents but I really think it’s your best option. A larger 5+ man tent is just going to be too bulky for 1 pack.