Beyond the Bug-out Bag

Building and keeping a bug out bag is an essential part of survival strategy. The idea of having a packed and prepared bag available, filled with everything you need to have to survive, means that all you have to do is grab your bag and go, should the need arise.

But that’s not to say that the idea of a bug out bag is perfect. Most bug out bags only contain three days worth of food, following the guidelines set out on FEMAs ready.gov website. That’s fine, if you can make it from your home to a place of safety in three days; but what if you can’t? Those three days are based upon trusting FEMA to take care of you; either through bringing emergency supplies to where you are or you going to one of their refugee camps.

No thanks; I don’t like either idea.

If things work out in such a way that you are able to drive from your home to your prepared and stocked survival retreat, than those three days worth of food are probably going to be enough. But what if that’s not the case? What if you don’t have the money to build and stockpile a survival retreat? What if you can’t drive your vehicle there, because the roads become impassible? What will you do then?

A bug out bag alone isn’t a survival plan; it’s just one part of it. You and I need a complete plan. That includes a destination to go to, a means of getting there and plans for what we are going to do to survive, once we get to that destination. Actually, we should probably have alternates for each of those items as well.

That’s why I’m not comfortable with the idea of leaving my home with nothing more than a bug out bag. I’m glad to have one, but I don’t stop there. I go well beyond the bug out bag. If I’m ever forced to abandon my home to survive, I want to make sure that I have enough with me to survive; no matter what happens.

That means I have to have more equipment and supplies than I can carry in a backpack. As a general rule of thumb, the average person can only carry a maximum of ¼ of their weight in a backpack. But that figure assumes that the person is in good shape; something that our mostly overweight society can’t exactly claim. A 200 pound person probably can’t really carry a 50 pound backpack, unless that person happens to spend enough time in the gym or doing outdoor activities to stay in shape.

The Solution

The key here is coming up with a way of carrying along more weight, without bogging yourself down. Carrying more weight than your body is capable of isn’t a good idea, as it will slow you down, cause you to burn more calories, and raise your blood pressure and pulse.

As with all problems there is a solution, and one that’s much easier than spending all your time at the gym, working out. That is to buy or build a backpacking or hiking trailer. I have seen a number of different versions of this idea, but they are all more or less the same. These trailers can have either one or two wheels and have two handles, designed for one person to use. Depending on the model, the handles can be attached to a belt, like a backpack belt or can be held in the hands, like the handles of a hand truck. Either way, this allows you to carry an additional 100 pounds of gear and supplies.

Another option is to use a cart of some sort to carry your gear. While most two-wheeled carts would probably not work well hiking cross country, there is a type of cart that hunters can use for hauling their kills out of the woods, when they can’t get their vehicle close. Called a game cart, these look something like a stretcher for carrying out someone who is wounded, mounted over a single bicycle wheel.

The problem with using the game cart, rather than the backpacking trailer, is that it requires two people to handle, one at each end. Nevertheless, if you have two people who can work together, these are designed for carrying as much as 500 pounds, so they would allow you to take a lot more gear and supplies with you than your bug out bag or even the backpacking trailer will.

What Else Should You Take?

Adding either type of cart to your bug out plan would allow you to take along much more than just your bug out bag. The question then becomes what should you take? That really comes down to deciding what things would do the most to help you survive.

In other words, we’ve got to go back to our basic survival priorities of maintaining our body temperature, having clean water to drink and good food to eat, as well as the secondary priorities. This gives us a list something like this:

  • Tools – full-sized axe, bow saw, shovel, framing chisel and adze for building a shelter
  • Sleeping bags – good, lightweight, backpacking bags to keep you warm
  • Backpacking tent – go for lightweight
  • Extra clothing – a couple of changes of rugged clothing, good work gloves and a warmer coat
  • A couple of gallons of water – especially if you are traveling in arid land
  • Additional food – no matter what, you can’t take enough
  • First-aid kit – you’ll want a trauma kit, to take care of larger wounds
  • Additional ammo – perhaps a second basic load of ammo for all the guns you are taking
  • Hunting bow – for hunting game

As you can see, other than the food and water, pretty much everything on that list are things that you wouldn’t have brought along in your bug out bag, simply because you won’t have enough space or weight capacity for it. But by adding to your weight capacity, you would be greatly increasing your chance of survival, even in the most remote and primitive areas.

Of course, your actual list would have to be adjusted for your specific survival plans. If you have a shelter in the wild that you would be headed for, there’s no need to plan on building one. Don’t just take my list and adopt it as your own, modify it as needed, to fit with your survival needs.

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