Prepping your bug out bag is always fun yet daunting at the same time because there are tons of information online about items you should bring. Many preppers make the mistake of loading their tools based on the size of their backpack and forgotten that the ultimate goal of having a bug out bag is for you to survive.
Here are 5 most common bug out bag mistakes that everyone makes:
Poor choice of bug out bag
A poorly chosen bug out bag means a bag that does not suit your personal needs due to its weight, limited space and overall appearance. Worst case scenario would be the bag impedes your chances of survival. I would not recommend that you fill your bug out bag exceeding more than 25% of your body weight unless your fitness level is top notch. Remember, our goal is to survive, strip down the essentials and leave the rest behind. You can check out this post if you are looking for a suitable bug out bag.
With that said, there are multiple factors to be considered before you can make an informed decision when purchasing a bug out bag. These factors are:
- Understand the bugging out essentials
In a SHTF or bugging out situation, the most important items you will need are commonly known as the 5 Cs which are cutting, combustion, cordage, container and cover. As long as you have these 5 Cs covered, you will probably do fine for the first few days. If you are not sure what are the 5 Cs exactly, I will be covering it more extensively below.
- Carrying capacity
You will need to decide if you want a 24-hour or 72-hour pack, but the general rule of thumb is that the volume is usually 40 litres or 2,500 cubic inches for an adult size bag. You can opt for a smaller size bag if you plan to bug out with your spouse and children because they too can share the load by carrying lighter weight items such as emergency food kit, poncho and survival tent.
Bag appearance that does not blend in
The design of your backpack is totally up to your preference because some preppers like the tactical look of a bag while others prefer camouflaged appearance. There are also bug out bags filled with numerous patches that may look cool but do not offer any function for your survival. Depending on your bugging out location, wearing a military style backpack in certain location are a norm but outlandish in others. Ensuring that your bag blends in well with the environment would avoid intimidating others who might be cautious towards you if your bag seems to carry weapons.
Packing too many equipment and tools
Remember the 5 Cs mentioned earlier? The 5 Cs represent the survival essentials that you will need to pack into your backpack. Make sure you pack according to the 5 Cs before putting additional items into your bag. Again the 5 Cs are cutting, combustion, cordage, container and cover.
Keeping a boot knife or a folding knife of at least 3 inches long with you is a must. You may also consider packing a knife sharpener in case the knife turns blunt. A knife is essential in almost any cutting situation such as slicing food, cutting small pieces of wood and of course, self-defence for survival.
Alternatively, you can replace your boot knife with a multi-tool like a Leatherman that combines pliers, wire cutter, saw, prying tool, screwdrivers, metal file, scissors and knife into one handy device.
A fire is usually needed for keeping warm, cooking and boiling water. Personally, I would recommend bringing your own portable stove with fire starter because with these stoves, you do not need to carry any fuel. Simply get some twigs or dry leaves as fuel and light it up using a starter.
On the other hand, you can also start a fire by using a ferro rod with scrapper to burn the tinder that can be made of dryer lint. During night hours, carry alongside a tactical flashlight instead to help navigate your way in the woods.
The most popular cord among survivalists is the 550 paracord. A paracord would come in handy for almost any situation such as making a splint for an injured arm or leg, paracord hammock or for setting up tent, belaying rope for mountain climbing and can even be made into survival bracelets.
Container here means a storage unit to keep clean drinking water and food rations (peanuts, carbs and high fats). Consider bringing along a portable water filter if you plan to drink from a nearby river stream to prevent unwanted disease and bacteria infection.
Finally, the last C stands for cover. You will need to build your own shelter when bugging out in case of extreme weather. Carry an emergency tent with you to keep yourself warm during the cold weather. Cover also includes emergency blanket, clothes and poncho.
Packing too little food or water
If you prefer to bring your own drinking water instead, you will need to pack at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. Alternatively, you will need to search for nearby water source, filter and then boil it before it is safe for consumption. In terms of food rationing, a typical 3 days survival ration would range from 3,000 to 3,500 calories depending on a person’s physical needs and activities. Referring to the survival rule of threes, human can survive 3 weeks without food and only 3 days without water. Make sure to check the expiration date on those emergency water packs or food kit!
Apart from food, you should consider bringing a medical kit. Make sure to pack your daily medicine needs such as allergy medicine, antacid, aspirins and pain relief in case of emergency. In terms of hygiene, you can bring empty plastic bags, soap and toothbrushes to clean up after eating.
Not packing important documents
There are few items not listed above that I think you should consider putting inside your bug out bag. The items include identification documents or license and some cash. Having identification documents would help others identify your identity especially if you are travelling in a foreign country. Reporting a lost wallet or seeking help from authorities would be much easier if you have spare identification documents.
In addition, bringing a medical card is also proved to be handy during emergency so that others can read your medical history in a glance. This would prevent others from prescribing drugs that you have allergy and diagnose your medical condition base on past records.
Lack of Field Training
What is the point of packing these survival tools if you only know how to use half of them? Nothing beats bringing your personal bug out bag to undergo real field training. If you do train, your chances of survival would increase dramatically, and your family could count on you when they needed the most.
During your leisure time, get to the nearby woods, disconnect yourself from your phone and computers. At your own pace, focus on honing your survival skills. Start by familiarizing what is in your bug out backpack and learn how to use each tool effectively. In addition, bring a GPS with you to familiarize with the terrains nearby where you live. Learning where the source of water and locations of nearby villages would help you substantially during emergency.
If there is only one thing you can take away from this article, it would be this: Understand your personal or family needs when selecting a bag, pack only the essentials and train! Any preppers can pack a bug out backpack but what makes all the difference is your ability to use the resources that are available inside your bug out bag kit. After knowing your bag from inside out, you would not have to worry of any bugging out situation. In fact, your calmness and preparedness would add significant advantage to your chances for survival.
About the Author:
I am Peter Betts, a survivalist and outdoor enthusiast. I have spent hours researching and learning about what is needed to help keep you and your loved ones safe. To learn more about my work, you can check out The Survival Hacks.