If SHTF and you have to get out of dodge, your bug out bag is going to be your life line. This bag will be your pantry, tool shed, medical kit and kitchen sink for the foreseeable future. We’ve done guides on good practices for your go bag. This guide is focused on what NOT to do, avoid these mistakes to maximize your chances for survival.
1. Over Packing Your Bug Out Bag
The key to remember here is “Ounces=Pounds, Pounds=Pain”. If your bug out bag is overweight you won’t get very far at all. The first mistake a lot of preppers make is bringing everything for anything. Unfortunately, this is impossible, your pack should be no more than around 20% of your body-weight. Any more than that and you risk injury.
This may seem impossible, how is a 180 lb person supposed to feed and clothes themselves and still have room for tools and ammo with only 36-lbs? The answer is a lot simpler than it seems: planning. Don’t plan for everything, but only what you’ll run into. If you’re surviving in the desert, you don’t need snow shoes. Take an account of your situation and decide what it is going to demand. If there is little likelihood of you dealing with snow, leave behind the arctic jacket.
Cutting out redundancies is another good way to light your load. You always want two, and sometimes, three ways to do basic tasks. Start a fire, filter water or plug a wound. But you don’t need two binoculars, two knife sharpeners, etc. Decide what you absolutely cannot do without or don’t have a way to fix. Everything else, one will do.
#2. Untested Gear
This covers a few things, firstly, don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s no reason to get the latest new backpack and load it with all the newest gadgets and doodads just because the talking head told you to. And don’t, DON’T trust your pack to do what it’s supposed to when the time comes. It’s just a backpack with stuff in it and that’s your job, silly…
Stick with the basics, you don’t need a laser-powered tree-feller. You need a hatchet. The biggest hazard with untested gear is there’s no guarantee it’s going to work when you need it to. The last thing you need for a gadget to malfunction in you hour of need. This goes for you too, practice your skills and don’t hope that you’ll figure it out when you need to. Leave as little to chance as possible.
In addition to practicing your skills, make sure you’re practicing with your gear too. Again, don’t assume you’ll know how something works when the time comes. This section is all about leaving as little to chance as possible. Unpack and repack your bag to familiarize yourself with where everything is until it’s muscle memory.
3. Buying the Bag First
A common bug-out-bag mistake a lot of beginners make is buying the bag first and then figuring out what to put in it. This might not sound like that big a deal, truthfully it’s not the worst transgression, but its not advisable. A lot of beginners look for the coolest looking, highest end, military style backpack and then cram it with everything they think they’ll ever need.
A far better practice (after you’ve formulated your plan) is to put together the contents of the pack, then find a bag that fits your needs. This will also help with the over-packing side of things. If you tailor your bag to your load and not the other way around, you’re less likely to say “look at all that space left over!”
Long story short, don’t build your plan around your bag, don’t pick your contents based on your bag. Pick your bag based on your plan and what you’ll need to be successful.
4. Not Enough Water Containers
This might sound silly, but it’s true. Time and time again, preppers pack a water bottle or two and figure they’ll make due with a Life Straw or filter. BIG MISTAKE. If something happens where the filter breaks or runs out (they don’t last forever), you’re outta luck. Additionally, if you go a day or two without coming across a water supply, again, outta luck.
It’s always advisable for each person to carry enough storage to carry 2 liters of water in their bug out bag. As heavy as it may be, it’s the most essential item when it comes to survival and is worth every pound. By all means carry a filter, carry two, but also have a cook kit so you can boil water also. Less moving parts and a lot easier to fix.
5. Relying On A One Sized Fits All Solution
As ironic as it may be, a survival site telling you not to rely solely on advice from survival sites, it’s the best advice we can give! We don’t have all the answers for each individual, everyone’s situation is different. There are general principles that apply to everyone (like this list) but not every piece of advice is applicable to everyone.
If you ever watch popular survivalists on T.V. like Les Stroud or Bear Grylls, they always bring different tools for different environments. The same goes for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with buying a bug out bag kit from survival stores like SurvivalFrog or Forge Survival. But make sure you customize your bug out bag for your situation and to accomplish your goals.
Commonly Forgotten Items
We hope this article helps you in choosing the best bug out bag for you. As an after thought, we put together a list of commonly forgotten items based on some of the guides we’ve read around the web. Let us know what items you would add to this list in the comments below!
- Pencil and note pad – Yes, this is necessary, your pencil has a better memory than you do.
- Zip lock bags – Good for a multitude of things and virtually weightless. Keeping sensitive items dry, carrying water, you name it.
- Dental kit – Indispensable, there’s a reason the military won’t deploy you with bad dental. You don’t want a tooth ache on top of surviving SHTF.
- Chap stick – May not seem like much, but anything that takes away some discomfort is good for morale.
- Identification – It’s not a bad idea to carry a few forms of ID.
- Instant Coffee – A good item to bring with you if you’re a caffeine addict. It’s a good idea to take it out of the canister and put it in a zip lock bag, less space.
- Zip ties – This speaks for it self, never know when you need to lash something. Good for repairing broken straps too
- Sewing Kit – Instead of finding a replacement, fix your cloths your self!