Congratulations! You have picked a suitable bug out bag. What’s next?
After spending months researching for the best bug out bag, there is another hurdle you have to face – which is how you can best pack your bug out bag.
Most people make the mistake of leaving the bag too messy. In fact, an organized bug out backpack may even save your life when shit hit the fan.
Furthermore, it’s no secret that it is extremely easy to overload your bug out bag. This is usually caused by an unorganized approach in packing the bug out bag as well, leaving unnecessary space in some parts of the bag and even arranging the gears in a way which takes up a lot of space.
With that said, here are 5 tips for packing your bug out backpack.
Tip 1 – Structure the way you pack your bug out bag
This tip is first on the list because of its importance. The method you structure your bug out bag can be a huge determining factor on how successful you can bug out. You can save time in getting the item you need to get within seconds, which can mean a world of difference.
The million-dollar question is: How can best approach your bug out bag? Let’s get down to brass tacks.
There are 2 options you can adopt: (1) You can sort out the bag according to the “function” of the items, and (2) Determining the “type” of disaster you are preparing for.
For the first approach, sorting out the bag according to its function means you will need to pack the bag according to what you need it for. One section of the bag can be for ‘fire-starting’, while another section can be dedicated for ‘water-purification’. If you are in a country with extreme weather, it would be wise to pack some extra clothing and shelter too.
Some kits which you can consider packing is a fire-starting kit, a first-aid kit or even a sewing kit. If your bag is properly compartmentalized, there wouldn’t be a need to sieve through your entire bag just to access your fire-starting device. I will suggest setting the front-portion of the bag for self-defense items, so that its easily accessible. In precarious situations requiring self-defense, you will need access to your edc knife quick.
You can even prepare an electronics kit, ensuring that there are spare batteries in that kit. It may contain batteries or even a HAM radio. This helps you to make sure that you are not missing out on things you need.
For water, you need to bring extra clean water and devices to help you clean water. This includes the possibility of boiling it or even cleaning it using chemical purification. Lifestraws or portable Aqua may help with this.
For the second approach, you can sort your bag according to the ‘type of disaster’ you are dealing with. Generally, disasters are categorized into natural disasters, human-caused disasters and ‘other incidents of mass trauma’ (the catch-all).
To be even more meticulous, you can further divide ‘natural disasters’ into the possibilities of Floods, Earthquakes, Wildfires or even Tornadoes. Since every single type of natural disaster is unique, it would be wise to consider each disaster separately. As for human-caused disaster, it may be incidents of mass violence, a sudden terrorist attack or even a robbery. I will suggest preparing for human-caused disaster in both your bug out bag and everyday carry bag as well.
Tip 2 – Focus on how you structure the ‘outside’ of the bag
What you put inside your bag is important, but what you put outside your bag is imperative.
Even if you have a larger structured bug-out bag, I would suggest putting in effort in structuring the ‘outside’ of the bag. What do I mean? It means utilizing the external pockets and planning how you should utilize the Molle system.
This may include getting suitable MOLLE clips and connectors too so that you can easily connect and attach gears. I would suggest getting speed clips such as Blackhawk, so that you can quickly attach and disconnect pouches. Make sure that the clips are reliable too!
Another consideration you need to take into account is to conceal your gears, you don’t want to attract too much attention to yourself.
Items that require instant access have to be put into the outer pockets or placed in pouches which are strapped onto the MOLLE suspension. I would suggest putting first aid items and self-defense tools because in most urgent situations, these are the things that you need. Alternatively, a tactical flashlight will be helpful too.
You can use carabiner clips to keep your items secured too, so that you don’t worry about them going missing. You can have a thought process like: What if you were separated from your bag, what would you need urgently? There are situations where you will not have time to maneuver inside the bag and can only access items outside the backpack. In these situations, what items do you need most?
Although it’s important to keep your bag lightweight, you need to attach items that is useful for you on your bag. Keeping paracords, a fire-starter, a boot knife or even a tactical flashlight may be a good idea as well.
Tip 3 – Remember to refresh your stock
For most people, they leave their bug out bag sitting at home for several years before even using it. Of course, the ideal situation is when you don’t even need to utilize your bug out bag at all. However, the mistake often made is that they often don’t restock the things in their backpack, causing the bags to be filled with outdated supplies.
Essentially, you need to rotate your survival food, first aid items (medications), water supply, electronics and even ammunition.
If your food has gone rotten or your water isn’t clean, it may do more harm than good to your body. Food specifically manufactured for survival situations often live up to at least 5 years. You can consider getting survival food kits and MREs which has a longer shelf life too.
As for medication, there are various expiry dates so you need to take the initiative to find out how long the medication can last from existing information which the manufacturer provide. As for electronics, it’s definitely better to get flashlights which run with kinetic energy to avoid the hassle of getting new batteries.
Tip 4 – Keep a spare item especially when it’s really necessary
If you only kept one water purifier in your bug out backpack, you run a higher risk of going through an emergency without access to clean water. Your water purifier may get faulty or you may lose the tool altogether.
However, as you commit by this rule, you need to bear in mind that this is only for essential items. Most people make the mistake of packing too many things because they put in ‘excess’ items. There is a really fine line that we need to draw here between ‘redundant gear’ and ‘necessary items’.
In fact, it may even be a good idea to pack 2 different types of tools that has the same function. For example, instead of putting 2 packs of lighters in your bag, you can include a lighter and ferro rods. If your lighter fails to work properly, you still have the option of using the ferro rods to build a fire.
Tip 5 – Keep the heaviest items nearer to your back
If heavy items are kept further away from your back, the more it will pull your back towards the ground.
For example, it’s much easier to hold your bag for long hours if you held it near your back or chest as compared to holding it with your hands stretched. This will stress your hand out and you will not be able to hold the bag for very long.
Therefore, it’s always wise to pack heavier items nearer to your back, and at the bottom of the pack.
However, if you feel that the ‘heavy’ item is needed for urgent use in a SHTF situation, you can consider putting it at the top. Another important aspect is how frequent you will use that item. If you use that item frequently, it would be wiser to keep it at the top of the pile, or somewhere easily accessible (which is usually the outer layer)
It’s always important to go through a huge amount of thinking process before packing your bug out bag. To keep the bug out bag lightweight and fully functional, you need to put in the effort.
If you are packing your bug out bag more for show than utility, it may result in unfavorable situations. If you have to unpack every time before you get something that you urgently need, it will mean that you need to rethink how you pack your bug out bag.
Don’t underestimate the effort you take in organizing your bug out bag. If there are any tips which I missed, please feel free to raise them in the comments!