Editor’s Note: On one hand, your Bug Out Bag needs to be lightweight enough so that you can move quickly and on the other hand you need to have as many supplies as possible. Keeping a good balance between those two is the key to a “smart” B.O.B.
But smaller (in volume) is always better! Here are some tips to help you make your B.O.B. a smaller and lighter.
#0. The Only Clothes You Really Need in Your B.O.B.
From a hygiene standpoint you should only be concerned about an extra set of underwear, socks and t-shirt. Consider the clothes you’re wearing when you leave the house to be your only set (so dress in weather appropriate clothing BEFORE evacuating). (Source) If you want, you can pack only one-two SKIVVY ROLLs. Or if you want to pack more clothes you can use Ziploc Space Bags (#1)
Here’s how to pack your clothes into a skivvy roll:
Of course, I’m not stupid enough to pack such colorful clothes. My BOB clothes are entirely black or camo so it would have been difficult to understand from the picture.
by Dan Sullivan
It’s no secret that the lighter your bug-out bag, the longer you can walk with in. And when you’re forced to walk or even run for your life, every drop of energy counts. Those extra pounds will really wear you off but most preppers don’t even know it….
Many fall into the trap of thinking that, if they walked for a few seconds with a fully-packed BOB on their back, they can do it for hours on end in an SHTF scenario. Nothing could be further from the truth. These people will have the shock of their lives when they realize they’ll barely be able to walk half a mile with that thing on their back… at best.
Heck, marching with a fully packed bag is tough even for soldiers, let alone untrained preppers, most of which are also a little overweight. Of course, the best advice I can give you is to get into shape but… with a little bit of creativity we can make it lighter as well as smaller.
By the way, you can find a full list of all the things you could possibly put in your BOB right here but, assuming you already have your bag jam-packed with stuff, let’s see what we can do to shrink it.
#1. Use Ziploc Space Bags
Space bags allow you to save up to two thirds of the space occupied by the spare change of clothes you have in your backpack. The process is simple: you fold the clothes like you normally would, put them inside the bags, close the zipper and then use a regular vacuum cleaner to suck the air out through the valve opening.
Unfortunately, you can only use these bags for cotton, wool and linen clothes. You can’t store leather, fur or food inside. You can get these Space Bags really cheap off Amazon; they come in packs of 10-15 and they end up costing you less than 2 bucks a piece.
#2. Use AAA batteries instead of AA
Since every ounce counts, why not use AAA batteries instead of the heavier AAs? Alkaline AAs weigh around 23 grams (0.81oz), lithium AAs weigh 0.53oz (or 15g) but alkaline AAAs weigh 0.4 ounces (or 11.5 grams) and lithium AAAs only 7.6 grams (or 0.26 ounces).
Obviously, you will need to replace your electronics with new ones that use these types of batteries.
#3. Opt for Freeze-Dried Foods
This unique food preservation method is great not only because the resulting food has amazing shelf-life but also because it is lightweight. Reason? 98% of the water is eliminated.
#4. Use Uncoated Titanium or Anodized Aluminum Cookware
If you have the money, uncoated titanium cookware is as lightweight as it gets. It costs more but if cutting weight is really important to you, you might as well pay the one-time fee.
Aluminum is another great option for your lightweight cooking utensils but there’s a caveat. It reacts with foods that are alkaline and acidic, meaning you can expect some of it to end up in your food! A good solution is anodized aluminum which solves these problems but this would also mean you’d have to spend more in order to get them.
#5. Pack a tarp instead of a tent
Ok, so tarps offer little protection from bugs, insects and cold temperatures but they’re really lightweight and, for some people, they might be just what you need. They do a very good job in protecting you from rain, wind and sunlight.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which one you need. Consider your location, the temperatures you’ll have to face and, last but not least, how skilled you are when it comes to making shelter in the wilderness.
#6. Cripple your toothbrush…
Simply remove the handle by breaking it. You’ll do fine without it, don’t worry. It doesn’t make your BOB that much lighter but, in a survival situation, every once counts.
#7. Use the space inside your boots or shoes
This is an obvious way to save space but some people never heard it. It’s worth mentioning.
#8. Do NOT buy a lighter backpack
This may sound counterintuitive but lighter backpacks, due to the fact they lack the frame, will actually seem heavier! A frame helps keep the weight closer to your back and without it, the items inside will tend to move away from your back and make you feel uncomfortable.
#9. Find smaller versions of each item in your BOB
For example, instead of packing the entire SAS Survival guide, opt for the pocket edition which is smaller and, obviously, lighter. Get a smaller toothbrush, a smaller mug, a smaller can opener, a smaller everything!
Next, consider packing less quantities of the things you already have. Less toothpaste, less duct tape, less toilet paper etc. Yes, this could mean you’ll run off of that particular item but don’t forget the initial risk: that of getting exhausted by your BOB’s weight while you’re bugging out.
#10. Put medicine in Ziploc bags
A neat little trick is to take all the pills out of their prescription bottles and put them in Ziploc bag to not only save weight but also space. Don’t forget to label them, of course.
#11. Remove unnecessary items
I left this at the end because it’s really up to you which BOB items you’re going to remove, keeping in mind that each of them is a tough decision. A lot of people are packing stuff in there thinking that it’s better to have it then not to. Who needs spices or caffeine pills or a gun cleaning kit in their bug out bags, anyway?
Maybe you do and maybe you don’t but what I recommend you do is empty your backpack and then, as you put every item back in it, look at it and ask yourself: do I really need it?
As you can see, there’s one thing you have to do in order to shed weight off your bug-out bag and make it as small as possible: sacrifice. You might need to invest into new gadgets, you might need to give your BOB food stockpile a complete rotation and spend some extra cash on a tarp.
It’s really up to you if you think your current bug-out bag is light enough but, before you reach that conclusion for yourself, I strongly suggest you take it out for a test drive. Fully packed. Go hiking with it on your back for a couple of hours and see how you feel.
This article was written and contributed by Dan Sullivan from Survival Sullivan.