How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out Bag

Rich M.
By Rich M. February 12, 2021 09:37

How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out Bag

Building the perfect bug out bag is one of the biggest challenges the average prepper takes. You’re trying to create a pack which has everything you could possibly need, for whatever emergency you might run across that causes you to abandon your home, but doing it without knowing what that emergency is going to be. No wonder it’s challenging.

In order to help us with this dilemma, there are countless lists of what a bug out bag should include. While any of those lists alone looks good, the confusion begins when we start comparing them to each other.

There are always differences, and the things that each list adds always seem like good ideas. But if we try to take all those things with us, we’ll end up with a bug out bag that weighs so much, we can’t even manage to leave home.

Ideally, a bug out bag should weigh about 20% of your body weight. But there’s a catch to that. That 20% figure is based on lean weight. So you don’t get to carry a 50 pound pack if you weigh 250 pounds, laughing at your 150 pound buddy who’s trying to fit everything into a 30 pound pack.

If anything, a 250 pound person would probably have more of a struggle with that 30 pound pack than a 150 pound person does, unless that’s 250 pounds of lean muscle.

Thirty pounds really isn’t a lot; not when you’re trying to take everything you might need to have, regardless of what happens. Of course, you could work on improving your physical conditioning, allowing you to increase that pack size, without giving yourself a heart attack.

Related: 11 Items You Shouldn’t Have in your Bug-Out Bag

Soldiers and Marines fighting in the Middle East typically carried somewhere between 60 and 100 pound. That’s a whole lot more than I carried, back when I was in the Army.

Of course, that’s not all their pack. It includes weapons, spare magazines, body armor and spare batteries. Still, this shows what can be done, if someone is in shape.

Make Redundancy Work For You

There’s an adage in the prepping community that “two is one and one is none.” That actually came from the Navy SEALS and it’s a pretty good idea.

But before we start putting two of everything in our bug out bags, we need to make sure that we really need two. For that matter, we need to make sure we actually need one.

How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out BagThe idea really isn’t to carry two of everything; it’s to build redundancy of capability. That’s a whole other thing. In other words, when it comes to having a way to start a fire, always be sure to have a second way, something that’s different than the first. The same goes for purifying water, cutting wood and any other survival task you can think of.

The second part of this is that the second one doesn’t have to be as big, fancy, or easy to use as the first, just as long as it works. Take your knife, your primary survival tool. You probably have some sort of a nice sheathe knife for your primary. But that doesn’t mean you need another sheathe knife for your backup.

Go for something smaller, like a folding pocket knife. If you’re carrying a multi-tool, then let it be your backup knife. Just make sure it’s a good one.

How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out BagBuying gear that provides multiple capabilities is great, just as long as it is quality gear. Some tools that do multiple things are poor quality, created to dazzle you with all they can do, but will break in actual use.

So while it’s a good idea to have tools which can serve multiple purposes, make sure you put them through their paces, testing them out in real life to make sure they won’t break at a critical moment.

Related: 13 Weird Survival Tools Every Prepper Should Stockpile

How Heavy Was That?

Another factor to consider in your purchases, is the weight of each individual item. Many things manufactured for the prepping and survival community have been developed without thinking about weight. So the weight adds up quickly, making that 30 pounds disappear.

How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out Bag Granted, quality items are often heavier, especially when we’re talking about tools. But you can get quality and strength by going with lightweight, strong materials, especially titanium. Titanium cookware, for example, is lighter than aluminum.

So, while aluminum is less costly from a financial point of view, titanium wins for most serious backpackers, by saving a couple of ounces.

Serious backpackers are sticklers for weight, willing to pay higher prices for just about everything, just to save a few ounces here and there. Having spent enough time on the high trails myself, I can see the advantage of this.

While I can’t say that my bug out bag is the epitome of lightweight, I’ve made a number of my choices based primarily on the item’s weight. Let me give you a few examples:

  • I bought a ripstop nylon rain poncho, even though it cost 3x as much, because it was lighter than a typical plastic one. It also breathes, so it’s more comfortable to wear.
  • I spent 4x as much money on an ultralight backpacking tarp, replacing one of the cheap blue ones, because it was about ¼ the weight.
  • I switched from an aluminum cookware set to a titanium one because it was half the weight.

At the same time, there are some things you can save weight on, by totally changing what you use. I had a folding shovel in my kit for years, something similar to the “entrenching tool” that I carried during my Army days.

But finally, I realized I’d never have to dig a foxhole, so I replaced it with a Hori, which allows me to dig anything I need to, but is about the size of a sheathe knife. That Hori was less than 1/3 the weight of the entrenching tool.

Get The Right Pack

Don’t forget about your pack, when you’re looking for places to save weight. Some tactical packs that people use for bug out bags can weigh as much as five or six pounds empty. That’s too high a percentage of your overall weight. You’re better off with something that’s in the two to three pound range.

How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out BagMake sure that your pack has a good internal frame and a well-padded, comfortable belt as well. Avoid any pack that has features you aren’t going to use; that’s just extra weight you don’t need to be carrying.

For example, a pack which is designed for use with a camelback water bladder is only going to help you if you’re going to be bringing that water bladder with you. if not, you’ve got nothing but wasted space.

A pack which conforms to your body, hugging close to you and not sticking out a long ways is going to be more comfortable to carry, making the weight seem lighter.

Many tactical rucksacks stick out a good 10” to 12”. That puts the weight far behind your hips, throwing you off balance and making the weight seem heavier.

Related: 11 Smart Tips to Make Your Bug-Out Bag Lighter and Smaller

Pack It Right

No matter how you try and cut weight, you’re eventually going to hit a hard floor, where you don’t feel like there’s anything else you can get rid of. Even so, you can make that pack seem lighter, even if you can’t make it be lighter. It’s all a matter of how you pack it.

Remember what I just said about a pack that sticks out too far throwing you off balance?

Many people have that problem, for no other reason than the way they’ve packed their pack.

The secret is to load the pack in the right way, so that the weight is where it needs to be, up close to your body, where it will transfer well to the belt; not out far away from your body, where it will be pulling on the straps.

Your legs are the strongest muscles in your body. They’re used to carrying weight around all day. So, weight that is transferred to your hips by the pack’s belt is going to be weight that is easier to carry; in other words, it’s going to seem lighter and easier to carry, even though it weighs the same.

So, what you want to do is:

  • How To Cut Out The Weight Of Your Bug Out BagPut your sleeping bag on the bottom, at or below the centerline of the belt. Many backpackers attach it under the pack, with straps.
  • Place the medium weight items, like food, in the bottom of the pack, at the level of the top of the belt and slightly above it.
  • Place the heaviest items, like tools, above the medium weight items, close up against your back. These shouldn’t extend more than 50% of the way through the thickness of the pack.
  • Place the light items to the outside of the heavy ones, and on top.

Of course, there will be some exceptions to this, for a few tools that you might need ready access to, such as a hatchet. But then, those are best hung from your belt, where you can get to them easily.

Try It Out

Once you get your bug out bag all put together and packed the way you want, test it out. Go on an overnight or weekend long backpacking trip somewhere, so you can see how it does.

How well does all your gear work? Are you carrying everything you need? Is there anything you’re carrying, which is a waste of space and weight?

Building a bug out bag is more of a process, than a destination. Don’t be surprised if you have to make changes after trying it out, or find a better piece of equipment than what you’ve got. I’ve been working on mine for years, and I’m still tweaking the design.

You may also like: 

If You See These 6 Signs It’s Time to Bugout

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The Easiest And Cheapest Way To Filter Water With Shungite

6 Backyard Plants You Can Turn Into Bread

The Incredible and Efficient Use of a Bicycle as a Bug Out Vehicle (Part 1)

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Rich M.
By Rich M. February 12, 2021 09:37
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40 Comments

  1. red ant February 12, 11:14

    No matter what, you will always put more then you can carrie. Just human nature.
    The only good bug out bag is the one that has every thing that you will want, not need.
    You have to separate the two.
    Wants and needs.
    Do I want all this stuff to survive. Yes you do want all of this. But what do you really need.
    Look at that and say how do I build a BOB.
    We’re all different and we all want deffrent things so how will you build yours.
    How will you know if you have ever thing. Test it just like he said. But be careful so you won’t be seen caring out your bag or bags. Go out at night and put your bag in the car so you are not seen. Make it like you are a ghost.
    Now you can leave the next day with out every one seeing you get your stuff.
    The BOB can only fit you, because we are all different and think different. So if your bag dose not have lip balm don’t freak out because I use it and you don’t. lol.

    Get all that you want, but only what you might need. This will be a challenge.

    Right a list so we can see what we might need. You might have what I don’t.

    I bet you don’t have this…

    Reply to this comment
  2. blue February 12, 17:09

    The Pack is where I see most folks getting into trouble. Some of it is just the actual capacity of the pack it’s self. Some is the “tacticool” effect. My bug out bag is a USMC ILBE recon pack, a little bigger than the standard ILBE – but I’m used to that pack! I’ve used it since it went into issue. Most folks are not and will over pack it and crush their own souls trying to move with it on.
    My recreational hiking pack (an older model REI Flash 40) weighs in at just over a pound – my BOB weighs in at just over 8 pounds (empty weight for both).
    There are happy mediums in packs if you look hard enough. The rest of my group for instance use the Osprey Kestrel 38 as BOBs. Reduced weight, and still tough enough that a lot of Boy Scout Troops use them as Troop gear. if you’ve never hiked with a bunch of Scouts….. Plus they fit “grey man” pretty good and you can find used ones on Ebay all day long – serious hikers go through packs like normal folks go though undies…
    One more consideration: Fit. Put the pack on! Make sure you understand that humans are not a one size fits all critter when it comes to back packs. Most hiking packs are adjustable now-a-days, while most “tacticool” packs are not. The ILBE is adjustable, but the tried an true ALICE is not.
    Just some stuff to think about…

    Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck February 12, 18:41

    Most preparers still think of bugging out while carrying humongous packs on their backs which means that a couple of miles down the road they will start shedding stuff that they would like to have but don’t want to carry.

    Personally, I think the idea of carrying my bugout load on my back ranges from ridiculous to outright insane.

    If I can’t manage any other way to carry my bugout load, I am going to use a travois. You know, those long poles that the Indians used to move their villages. Except for children too small, everybody pulled a travois, even the dogs. The men didn’t because they stayed alert on the fringes of the village as it moved, watching for hostiles. A village on the move was a vulnerable thing. A prepper on the move is equally, if not more so, vulnerable. The Indians had a group of warriors with the latest in assault weaponry guarding them. The prepper may only have himself guarding his family. And thanks to hoplophobes in government, you won’t have the latest in defensive or offensive weaponry. If you manage to have a S.A.W. or an M240 or better yet, a 40 mm grenade launcher, it will all be illegal. Big difference.

    A travois can go cross country. The Indians didn’t have the interstate highway system to move their villages on.

    I submit a travois can go anywhere you can go.

    Another reasonable substitute is a game carrier. They are two wheeled carts designed to haul your elk out from the back 40 where you shot it. They are designed, some better than others, to haul heavy loads cross-country.

    Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t load them judiciously, but it does mean that you can haul more weight with less fatigue than you can haul on your back. I don’t care if you are 25 and just back from running up and down mountains in Afghanistan, you can still haul more gear than you can carry. In addition to which even if you are the above, you can’t cover mountainous terrain like the scrawniest Afghani.
    While you are back at the FOB playing video games he is still out there snooping and pooping in the boonies. He can out walk you carrying a heavier load any day every day.

    So while this is a thought-provoking article, I would urge you to think outside the standard prepper box and consider alternate means of hauling your gear to your bugout location other than on your back.

    I haven’t tested it so it is just a theory, but I would suggest that you can even run faster and further hauling a travois or game cart than you can with a pack on your back. And that is even though the travois is heavier. A back pack affects your balance. A travois/game cart doesn’t affect your balance. You can drop the travois/g.c. faster than you can struggle out of a backpack with two shoulder straps, a sternum strap and a waist belt.

    I know for certain you can drop the handles of your travois or game cart and get your rifle into action faster than you can get your rifle off your back wearing a back pack and get into action. In addition to which without your back pack on your back you can maneuver defensively or offensively more easily than while wearing a back pack.

    Just some food for thought.

    11
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    • Dupin February 12, 20:44

      Interesting. Your travois/game cart definitely has merit, though that can depend on where your start point is and what you’re passing through on the way. If it’s all woods and away from cities, it should work well.

      If you’re even starting in the suburbs, a travois breaks the whole ‘gray man’ concept horribly, so at best you should only have your secondary items on the travois as you might have to drop it and run if you get the wrong type of attention.

      The game cart has the similar problem, though in some ways more so as you might be mistaken as someone homeless and therefore easy prey. The upside is that wheels allow you to move faster than the travois.

      Another idea would be a bicycle with panniers/front pack. Bicycles are closer to gray man as you see those in most neighborhoods and such. It’s possible that you can ride it a good ways or simply use it as your transportation. Otherwise, you can walk it with a greater load than you would otherwise carry.

      In all instances, I’d pack in layers. The essentials would be in the BOB vest/jacket from a week ago, then a pack for the almost essentials, then the travios/cart/bike for the very nice to have.

      Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck February 13, 00:45

        A bicycle ten years ago would have been my choice. At my present age plus the fact that I haven’t been on a bicycle in about ten years means I would have to be retraining my body for long distance riding. True, the North Vietnamese used bicycles to haul over 400 pounds 1200 plus miles all the while being harassed by low flying airplanes and LURPS and other assorted hostiles lurking along the trail quite successfully. Talk about bugout! There is just about the ultimate bugout.

        Of course they used specially built, heavy duty bikes with a steering stick to help them steer the bike. I have never seen a really clear, close-up picture of the arrangement, so don’t know how it helped. I can’t imagine it helping but apparently it did because every picture I ever saw of the bikes they used, the bike had the stick attached to the front wheel.

        I used to haul up to 100 pounds in my two-wheel bike trailer. I could have hauled a heavier load but used a light weight, prebuilt trailer rather than make a heavier duty one of my own. For hauling heavy weights like 200+ pounds I would install a dual brake system, discs and rim brakes both. If one added panniers to the bike one could easily get the total weight up to 500 pounds. I would want a heavy duty steel bike with big fat wheels for such a load and, as I mentioned, extra brakes. Maybe a hand applied brake for the trailer too.

        Today with health problems if we don’t have a motor vehicle, we will have to remain in place unless things just get too bad and we absolutely must leave. A cargo wagon with a 500 or 750 pound capacity would be ideal as my wife would have to ride. A wagon with an electric boost motor that could be solar charged would be more ideal and perhaps with a charger that could be engaged on down-hills to aid in braking. The wagon would definitely need brakes for going downhill.

        The pioneers coming west used to insert a wooden pole through the wheels to lock them for going down steep grades. That would work on the wagon but wear the tires too much. Steel rimmed wooden wheels on dirt wouldn’t wear as much. So that’s why that system worked.

        In any event, if forced to bug out, I will be using some kind of device to haul my “stuff” and not carrying it on my back.

        We have to remember, there are drawbacks to every system. There is no perfect system and what might work for me might be totally unworkable for you. What we have to remember is there is no pat system and we have to actively think of other means of transporting our needs other than always backpack backpack, backpack. It is my opinion there is too much emphasis on backpacks to the exclusion of other equally acceptable means of moving goods from one place to another by our own power.

        Think outside the box.

        Reply to this comment
      • left coast chuck February 13, 02:45

        For urban use, I think I would construct my travois with rubber tired, solid tire wheels. Certainly be quieter than dragging two wooden poles down the street. Also make the longitudinal poles last longer too.

        I wouldn’t plan on leaving during the day. Mostly I would plan on traveling between 0300 and 0600. Or perhaps 0000 and 0600. You want to wait until the goblins have drunk themselves into a stupor before heading out. once outside of urban areas, daylight travel might be more advisable. As always, have to be open to new ideas and thinking outside the box. In all cases, stealth if the byword.

        If you are traveling on familiar streets in familiar territory you don’t need lights to navigate or worst case, a red lensed flashlight to check on street sign names if they are still standing.

        Unless in wide open country, one always needs to be down for the day just after daybreak or earlier, depending on the neighborhood. It is best to have a silent weapon to use against the single intruder. A ballpeen hammer, a long-bladed sharp knife, a crossbow. Save the noisy stuff for the large group. A whack on the brain bucket with a baleen hammer is silent and neat, no bloody mess to clean up because the intruder bled like a stuck pig. If one whack with a hammer doesn’t do the job, do like the girl in the rhyme, give them another whack. Can’t recall the woman’s name at the moment. It will come to me at 0300 tomorrow morning.

        She was charged with killing her parents with a hatchet. If I recall correctly although she was acquitted at trial, her reputation preceded her and she was shunned everywhere she went.

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        • red February 13, 09:46

          LCC: Wheels would catch on every piece of trash on the street. they add weight when moving uphill. Poles are easily replaced, but time is not. One biggie was pack dogs. Mountain Xolo were traditional in the South and Southwest. Husky, Malamute, and others were big, heavy muscled, and heavy bones for packing. German Shepherds are easy to train, as well. 1 alpha bitch (canine, not my grandmother) (don’t laugh, you know in mining country women call it a compliment) helps control the pack dogs. they run free and hunt on the move. While these modern contraptions used as backpacks are great, they’re a trap, too. How do you get out of them? A tumpline and my old duffel bag would work as well. BTW, a lot of women I know and once knew up in the hills have a little homily on the kitchen wall: Baby I’m Taking Control Here. niio

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          • left coast chuck February 13, 18:12

            Red: Not if you use big enough diameter wheels. I am thinking 16 inch wheels which I had on my tandem and while I never deliberately ran over big stuff while riding, they easily rolled over twigs and rocks and just plain trash. In addition as you are out front of the travois, it is easy enough to kick trash out of the way as one proceeds down smooth surfaces. Transiting to brushy areas, remove the wheel and use the the device itself to drag. Gotta keep thinking outside the box. Look for solutions. Don’t get bogged down in problems.

            I haven’t seen a picture of a tump line pack in decades. How was the pack stabilized on the back, did it have shoulder straps?

            Reply to this comment
            • red February 14, 01:50

              LCC: while your cart/travois is a good idea, I can’t see it in the event of riots and so on. Wheels can get caught on rubble, like logs and car parts, the dead, and so on. a travois can go over most things without too much a problem. In open country, yes, it sounds great. In town, it feels like trouble.

              Tumpline packs are either flat on the back with straps that are held but not fastened in problem areas. No shoulder straps. Only the padded line over the forehead and side straps as mentioned. The major problem with them is you have to bend over some, and that would cut off some vision. They popular where people have to climb cliffs to and from fields or work.

              I met a couple of rock climbers in Mexico, down in tarahumara country. They were in their early 20s, non-smokers, and in good shape. They made it halfway up a cliff and stopped to rest, even hanging backpacks on pegs they drove into the rock. An old man, maybe 70, they thought, climbed up to them, looked over their equipment and kept free climbing with his tumpline attached to a sack of seed corn. That was down near Creel, not Canyon del Cobre and he probably climbed that canyon every day. One then said in a mutter, we left quietly.
              niio

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              • left coast chuck February 14, 04:26

                Red: The plan is to avoid riots and such. It would only be prudent to detour around active riots. As much as possible one would want to evacuate an urban area or suburban area during very early morning hours when the rioters have passed out from too much booze and dope. This is especially important in urban areas where criminal activity will be at its worst. In open country, it is imperative that one scans the horizon for possible trouble spots. Highway overpasses, underpass and the crests of hills are natural sniper spots and should be carefully scanned and approached in a stealth mode, leaving transport vehicles including travois in a concealed spot while scouting the possible ambush sites.

                One needs to be alert to vehicles parked in unusual positions, signs of movement, brush stacked unnaturally by the side of the road and any other oddity such as a car headed in an contra-traffic pattern. One needs to be especially cautious with vans that have the windows blacked out. An hour or two of careful observation is worth a lot more than 5 minutes of intense firefight.

                At night, remember if folks are sitting staring into the fire, as we are wont to do when sitting around a campfire, their night vision is shot and one can practically walk right up to them. However, one should suspect that there may be others who are not so careless hiding in the shadows back from the campfire, thus necessitation careful, prolonged study.

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                • red February 15, 07:35

                  LCC: I’m not disagreeing with you, only pointing out possible scenarios. I would rather use a gardenway cart than travois for a fast get-away, but use the travois outside of town. A travois is much easier in the countryside than a cart and does not need roads or wheels. A plus, it can be carried by 3 people in the event we need to be quiet.

                  Antifa and their houseboy BLM always have guards around. They take training a la Gestapo. Look for them to control rioters and direct them. Most of them are city, and will be afraid of snakes and other gentle woodland critters.

                  Have you ever seen the movie, The Road, which is an excellent example how NOT to do this. having been raised by practical people, most of the movie was something akin to horror, but I loved the ending. His own stupidity got him killed, but some of us came along and rescued the kid. niio

                  Reply to this comment
                  • left coast chuck February 15, 17:05

                    I saw the show and read the book both. A shopping cart is not the vehicle for long distance moves. There is a survival “expert” who recommends a shopping cart as a bug out method of carrying your belongings because many homeless use shopping carts.

                    He obviously has never pushed a shopping cart in a debris littered parking lot. Even in the store, a small piece of debris will cause those little wheels to quit turning. A shopping cart is really easy to overturn. Its center of gravity is too high. It is fine in its environment, a smooth surface with little or no debris. Get outside that envelope and things deteriorate swiftly.

                    The homeless use them because they are available. Although it used to be a felony to steal a shopping cart, it is now a misdemeanor and the cops aren’t about to stop a bum with a shopping cart. Not in this state anyway.Why not take the cart? It’s barely a crime, equivalent to dropping a cigarette butt on the street.

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        • z-man February 15, 22:15

          Lizzie Borden

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          • left coast chuck February 17, 23:29

            Thank you. Lizzie gave them forty whacks and when she was done she gave them another forty-one . . .I think that is the way it goes. Don’t remember the whole rhyme. It’s been multiple decades since I chanted that nursery rhyme in a school yard. I have a dim recollection of girls reciting it as they played hopscotch but I hate to recall how many decades ago that was. More like 3/4 of century.

            I have a feeling any primary school student who chanted that nursery rhyme in the school yard would be yanked out of school summarily; the parents peremptorily summoned to the principal’s office and ordered to receive counseling.
            Child Protective Services would be order to supervise the home for the next umpteen years.

            Here’s the nursery rhyme: “Lizzie Borden took an axe, And gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one,”

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    • red February 13, 02:33

      LCC: In addition, any packs carried used a tumpline over the forehead. 1st sign of trouble, women and kids scattered to hide leaving their packs behind. Dogs and others dropped their travois ready to fight.
      sown in Mexico you can, away back in the boonies, see people hauling loads on their backs. thousands of years old, the trails can be deadly for even mules, but OK for humans. niio

      Reply to this comment
  4. crazysquirrel February 12, 22:59

    You should carry more than the suggested weight.
    Example: Water – it is a diminishing weight. You use water and as you do the weight goes down.
    Food is another one.
    Ammo – possibly – depends on if you use any.

    We have a push/pull yard wagon to use. Holds 300 pounds.
    We chose that because if one of our party is injured and cannot walk, we can ‘tow’ them, plus their backpack or two.
    If not injured, we can haul extra things (like water and food).

    I think it is better than a travois because wheels have less friction. Plus it doesn’t dig easy to be seen and tracked ruts in the ground like a travois does.
    It can also double as a chair so you can rest.

    My assumption is that most people are not physically fit enough to start hiking without working up to it.
    Hence the reason for that wagon.
    Wagon could be abandoned later if necessary.

    Clean water is hard to come by in many places.
    Food is not easy to come by either.
    200 pounds of both can help you survive for a couple of weeks or so longer.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Clergylady February 13, 06:00

    I must either bug in or bug out in a vehicle. No walking for us. Hubs can’t and with idiopathic periferal neuropathy I can’t walk long or far. We have bags packed but pray not to need to go anywhere. 2 yearsago i’d have choisen a bicycle or wagon for me but hubs is continuing to go down. I’m still too weak but slowly rebuilding strength and stamina. Friend that had wanted us to bugout with them are in different situation now. He died of covid. Shes raising 3 little grandchildren. Life changes. Little truck or car camping would be possible if money and fuel are avIlable. If i were out shopping its a 20+ mile drive or walk home. Country is too rugged to cut across country. I walked that 19 yearsago… hot summers and below zero winters don’t make living outside too interesting nowadays.

    Reply to this comment
    • red February 13, 10:13

      ClergyLady: bug-in. You’re right where most would love to be after bug-out. Get that earth-sheltered greenhouse dug. Temperatures are easy to handle when you’re at home where you are. My thoughts are, you were put there for a reason. niio

      Reply to this comment
    • Black Swan February 17, 02:27

      Clergylady, you are smart to recognize that as we age, most of us have to trim back our expectations of how and what we can survive. Twenty years ago, I’d have said I could survive alone in the central or northern Ohio woods for at least a month or two if I had to, with mostly primitive tools and equipment. I might have been wrong, but I believed I could do it. Now, I know that’s highly unlikely, and I’d only attempt it if I had no other options except getting killed immediately.

      Two households in-state, but out of my immediate area, say they’ll welcome me to their ‘tribe’ in a survival situation, assuming I can get there and also that they’re still there! If I get to one of them in a communication-blackout situation and find them gone, I may have to attempt wilderness survival if they haven’t left me some kind of “message in a bottle” telling me where to find them. I’d look for it, of course; but in worst-case scenarios there will be nothing to find.

      So I understand your situation, because I’ve also aged out of most of my former bug-out options. My first choice will be to bug in, and welcome some of those aforementioned people to my place if they can make it. My going to where they are is a distant second choice at this point, unless I’m forced out of where I am now.

      I’m not sure what the optimum size group is to maintain and defend a shelter-in-place redoubt, without overtaxing the immediately available resources. But I’m certain the best number is not just one. Depending on who shows up, my ‘tribe’ will have as few as two or as many as ten. Whatever, we’ll deal!

      Have you considered who you might welcome to become part of your group, which it now appears is only you and DH? I haven’t read all of your posts, so I apologize if you’ve already addressed this question. You might find that some of the more able-bodied people you know would rather come where you are, given all the preps you have in place, that stay where they are in a crisis. They could bring along whatever supplies they have, but more importantly, the skills they can add to your group’s skill set. An arrangement like that could be a solid win-win.

      Best of luck if anything awful happens in our strange world; I hope it won’t come your way, and you and DH won’t have to go anywhere.

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  6. Wolverine February 13, 16:36

    My wife’s pack is 40 pounds, mine is 60 pounds, we are a 4 to 5 day walk home, so the extra gear is going to keep us going, we can last 2 weeks without looking for anything other that water. You need to plan for your needs, not our needs.

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  7. Walks with Cats February 13, 23:54

    It is far more efficient to carry two packs rather than one. By this I mean two people traveling together, each with their own pack. To boil water I need at least one pot/stainless steel water bottle. To cook food, I need at least one pan. Two people still need only one of each, so split the load. She can carry a tarp and ground cloth while I carry the tent. She can carry a first aid kit while I carry most of the ammo. Sure, build in enough for each person to survive on their own if separated, but a lot of weight can be saved by splitting between two (or more) people. Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I certainly will pause any bug out to rescue my mate. She might even do the same for me . . .

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  8. City Chick February 14, 18:48

    The same type of tactics applies to the bags you pack for vacation or a business trip! Weight is always an issue as you think you need more than you actually do! Before a big important trip, I always pack up early. Then I see if I can hoist it up on top of the refrigerator. If that’s doable, I might walk it around the block just to be sure it’s good to go!

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    • red February 15, 08:12

      CC: Very good way to explain things! One suggestion, use a weight, not your goods, in a backpack and walk a lot with it to get used to it. That way, you look like a health nut (me!) and not a rubbernecker just come to town. Get that back and legs in shape for the long haul. In a few weeks if you kick a mugger in the knee you’ll break his neck, too. niio

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      • left coast chuck February 15, 17:12

        I did that when I was preparing for our week-long Fuji hke. Every noon hour we walked. I carried a pack with a 5-gallon jug full of water in the pack. That equaled about 42 pounds. Forty for the water and 2 for the jug. Restaurant cooking oil came in a nice flat jug just the size to fit snugly in a cheap pack I bought at a thrift store just for that purpose. I got the oil jug from a buddy of mine who owned a pizza restaurant.

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      • City Chick February 25, 21:06

        Red – Yes, back in the day after 9/11, we use to practice what I think they call Marine Hikes. 7-14 miles with full weight back pack. Good way to get in gear if one needed to find one’s way home in the burbs from a bad situation in Manhattan. Been there. Done that. Unfortunately, more than once!

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  9. Ruthless February 14, 19:19

    Packed my bag of very few items (divided stuff between two bags when husband was alive). Can hardly lift mine. Now that I’m a widow have NO idea how I’d “bug out”.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck February 15, 17:21

      Ruthless: See my remarks about a travois or game cart. Harbor Freight sells a wagon that can be pulled like a child’s wagon but bigger. It isn’t vey expensive. You can always use a luggage cart. I keep a collapsible luggage cart in my vehicle in case we have to walk home or walk some place else. I can put both my bag and my wife’s bag on the luggage cart and pull it easier than I can carry my bag on my back. You can acquire a 2-wheeled dolly from Harbor Freight for not much money. You can drag it behind you, you don’t need to push it in front of you. By dragging it behind you, you won’t have as much trouble pulling it over obstacles as you would if you were pushing it.

      If the absolute worst happens, you can drop the handle and run. You might lose all your stuff and eventually your life, but if you hang on to it you probably will lose your life a lot quicker. If you drop whatever you are hauling your stuff in, the most likely scenario is that whoever is threatening you will let you go because what they are really interested in is what is in your gear. If you have your self-protection device on your person, while they are rooting through your stuff, you can take that opportunity to rid the earth of some low life specimens, thus improving the gene pool of folks left on earth.

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    • red February 16, 00:10

      Ruthless:After my car died, away back when, I used an old bicycle to get around. Dominican neighbors called it my pack mule because it could be loaded heavy and still rode well. In Vietnam, Cong bought thousands of bicycle wheels from the chicoms and made heavy-duty but very light frames out of bamboo. They were not for riding, but could haul about 200 lbs. Tight now, I have a 50s era ten-speed that will go about anywhere. I weigh 250 lbs, so it could carry that much weight in packs if I were able to walk. Thorn-proof tubes are needed in Arizona, but even if i lived back east, I’d still want them because of broken glass. Use LCC’s advice. niio

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      • left coast chuck February 17, 23:38

        Actually, Red, the usually weight on those bikes was 200 kilograms equal to 440 pounds. Now that I have given it a little more consideration, I think the stick on the front wheel was actually not a steering device but an auxiliary braking device that rubbed against the front tire as they descended hills. I don’t think the bikes got ridden very much. I suspect they were walked the whole 1200 miles.

        It surely would be an interesting prepper read to read about a trip down the HCM Trail by one or more of the people involved.

        If by chance there are any survivors of the Ho Chi Minh Trail as we called it here in the States, following this list, it would be very helpful to have an article by you about the trials and tribulations of your journey or journeys. I know i, for one, would read it avidly.

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  10. red February 15, 08:14

    CC: Very good way to explain things! One suggestion, use a weight, not your goods, in a backpack and walk a lot with it to get used to it. That way, you look like a health nut (me!) and not a rubbernecker just come to town. Get that back and legs in shape for the long haul. In a few weeks if you kick a mugger in the knee you’ll break his neck, too. niio

    Reply to this comment
  11. Sabel February 18, 07:51

    We bought ourselves a pair of tricycles a few years ago, figuring that if the SHTF while we were up north, our goal would be to get down to our ranch in Texas and, while we would probably start out in vehicles, with bumper- mounted racks on each one, we could take the trikes with us, along with a small trailer that rolls behind DH’s trike for the dog to ride in, along with some extra gear, and we would have an additional way to continue the trek if/when fuel became unavailable.
    Trikes are more stable than bikes and, these days, stability has become more of an issue, especially if trying to ride and shoot at the same time. They also can stand upright on their own without requiring a kickstand, so if you need to dismount or use them for carrying gear rather than riding them, they are easier to handle. You can even buy electric motors for them to assist on uphill grades, although the battery adds a bit of weight.

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    • red February 19, 05:38

      Sabel: If I may, I suggest reading wolf and iron by Gordon R. Dickson. at https://www.thriftbooks.com/ Dickson gave us a SHTF account and how to survive the collapse. The story is knowledgeable in prepper tactics, and not military. ! lone man in winter weather avoiding slavers, raiders, and so on. Dickson was a prepper and studied everything he could on survival. niio

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  12. JB February 19, 06:34

    Great article. You all have certainly given this a lot of thought and sent this way out into the weeds….almost quite literally. Back on the backpack issue. Im guilty too of pretending I can haul this much stuff across the country. I have gone through my pack over and over as I learn more but its still going to be a challenge at best. One way to offset the weight if you were walking would be to break down your goods and carry another pack across your chest. This could help with balance. I like the travois idea. You could reinforce the ends dragging the ground with some pvc tubing. Sure it will wear out but it buys you distance and time. I also have the Harbor Freight collapsible cart. I use it a lot. But going back to grey man tactics in urban environments I think a suitcase with wheels could offer some anonimity. Everyone has them, they support a decent amount of weight and generally pretty rugged if your favorite airline hasnt already broke the wheels off for you. I think a lot of people would be using these if a Big event happened. But it all comes down to timing. Dont wait for instructions, trust your gut..

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    • left coast chuck February 22, 02:16

      After an EOTW event, there will be lots of trash around. We discussed wheeled suitcases back when I wrote about a bicycle as a bugout vehicle. Generally rolling suitcases are designed to be used on paved surfaces that are relatively clear of clutter. Like the grocery shopping cart, the wheels on most rolling suitcases are between 2.5 to 3.5 inches in diameter. Little wheels roll over junk with a lot more difficulty than bigger wheels. I would think the minimum size one would need to have a better “debris hopper” would be about six or eight inch diameter wheels. Solid rubber is preferable to pneumatic tires, however pneumatic tires can be filled with anti-puncture compound that makes them almost solid.

      Additionally, I have very recently read favorable reports on tubeless tires for bicycles. Tubeless tires on bicycles are much less prone to punctures than tube and tire arrangements.

      I really like your recommendation for pvc under the ends of the travois, JB. What a great idea! One could even carry spares for the inevitable wearing out of the original pvc “tires” Sure make dragging on pavement a lot easier. I am going to have to start giving thought to how to attach them so that it is easy to change out. I am thinking 90° elbows with a cotter pin to hold them on or a machine screw with a butterfly nut. I think a cotter pin would work better as a nut might have a tendency to work its way loose. Also easier to carry a bunch of cotter pins than a bunch of machine screws, butterfly nuts and washers.

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  13. Oracle February 22, 16:08

    My best advice, it’s better to carry extra weight to have everything with you that you will need. After more than 4 decades of backpacking, with many trips lasting weeks in remote areas, I’ve learned to spend the time and money to buy quality light weight expedition grade gear. Realizing your life may be dependent on what you carry will ease the stress of spending a lot of money. Every item you plan to use in your bag, even before purchasing it, should be weighed individually and then any alternative considered that will be more efficient; e.g. smaller in size, lighter in weight, and support multiple uses. I started out with a 70 lb. backpack and got it down to an average of 50 lbs. depending on the availability or lack of a natural water source. I carried this weight into my late 50s and now, at age 68, I’m down to 44 lbs. Every trip I’ve taken has allowed me to refine the selection of gear and the orderly and efficient packing of items I carry. Using the drawing of a filled backpack shown here as an example to follow would not be your best choice for packing arrangement. If you look closely at the image and consider the order of need vs. convenience of access to those items, you will see some of what I am referring to. A cheap and ill thought out bug-out-bag or get-home-bag is as high risk as buying a cheap gun just to save money and time researching something better. Keep in mind that while escaping a stressful situation your adrenaline increase will override the concern about the extra weight. You don’t want to add to your stress by not having what you need. Survival gear today is awesome and it’s a lot of fun researching and owning the cutting edge equipment.

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  14. Omega 13 February 25, 20:32

    I’m going to address the elephant in the room. One that has me thinking about the whole concept of a bugout bag.

    I’m sure BOBs are fine if you are a lone wolf type and you need to get to your site, but what if say, you’re married with small children?

    You’re hosed.

    I do carry emergency supplies in my trunk, but I got to put the concept to the test last Monday. Texas had an unprecedented winter storm and it stopped everything.

    I thought to myself, “We probably need to get out of here before the roads ice up or the power dies.” But we were surrounded by this situation. Icy roads, lots of power outages, temperatures in the single digits.

    We bugged in, which will probably be what most families do until they’re able to move away from a major city. If there is a SHTF situation, or even a period of unrest (which I expect by summer), most will be bugging in.

    Yes, I know I’m going to get flak for this, but I had to say it.

    Reply to this comment
    • City Chick February 25, 22:27

      Omega13 – No flak from me on this one! Your decision was a smart move! Untreated icy roads driven by folks who don’t know how to drive in these weather conditions, compounded by the elevated highway design so popular in Texas, made that a no brainer! If by some chance you want to try next time, get chains for your tires and make sure you have windshield wiper fluid rated for a much colder climate!

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  15. JB February 26, 06:01

    Omega13, no flak from me either. You probably did better than most. Im guessing based on the fact that you are on this site. You may have waited to late to bug out but you at least considered it. Everyone is going to wait for their own “sign” before things get real! My wife isnt big into prepping but she understands why i do it. She has a GHB in her car that i designed for her needs and capabilities. I even added note cards with priorities, suggestions and instructions on which way to travel from work to home or to a hotel. She has been stuck downtown and had to get a hotel after a big snow storm. My point is that if a person can cross a street on their own they should be able to carry a bag of some sort. My oldest grandkids have BOB’s. I change it based on their ages. You are right, smaller kids are going to be a real issue but thats why we are prepping to make sure they have a future. To be honest a smaller child would be easier to deal with than say 2 or 4 year old. Thats entire thread on its own….. Everyones situation is going to be different and location will play a big role on what would cause you to bugout. Peaceful protests, wildfires, earthquake, tornadoes, floods are the big ones but add to that the 9/11 attack or maybe a train derailment and a toxic gas leak. Your bag should be a safety net for bugging out or bugging in.

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  16. left coast chuck March 3, 20:08

    I recently got an ad from an on-line vendor for gardening products: I copied the ad and will reproduce it here. It is another option much along the lines of a travois.

    gardnersedge.com
    Leonard GardenGlide Transporter
    48 Reviews Write Review
    IN STOCK SKU AG1
    $42.39
    Gardeningproductsreview.com

    If you are considering this product at all as an adjunct to bugging out and hauling your gear as opposed to carrying it, I highly recommend going to the gardeningproductsreview.com website and read a hands on review of the device.

    One should always bear in mind that every mile we use a device to haul gear is one mile less that we had to carry it. Even if the device just totally fails ten miles down the road, we are still ahead that much by the ten miles we didn’t have to carry our load.

    I should also point out that recently, thinking about the topic I realized that my shooting practice means that I can shoot and haul at the same time.

    I practice shooting one-handed at least as much as shooting two handed — well, actually twice as much as I shoot strong-handed the same course I shoot two-handed and I shoot weak-handed the same course as strong-handed, so I shoot one-handed twice as much as I do two-handed. That means I can drag most loads while shooting my handgun or even a light rifle, although I will have to start practicing that. I know I can shoot my Contender one handed with the shoulder stock on it in rifle configuration, but that is only single shot.

    Using a rifle scabbard one can have easy access to one’s rifle if mounted on the travois or whatever drag device you choose.

    Using a hip mounted pistol and a chest mounted pistol, one could have considerable ammunition at hand. If you have a 9mm pistol with 17 round capacity on your hip and another similar pistol mounted in a shoulder holster, that gives you 34 rounds total without a magazine change.

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