Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's In Your BOB?

Twice a year, I dump everything out of my Bug Out Bag (BOB), revamp and update its contents, and repack it, just to make sure that it is always ready to go. Fortunately, I have never had to use it to "bug out" however it has come in handy on a number of occasions: we were at a park and someone needed a lighter to start the barbecue--no one seems to smoke anymore thus no lighter--so I simply pulled some matches out of my BOB. Another time I went to meet a friend in a city a couple of hours away from my home. It got late and snowy so I decided to get a hotel room for a night. Even though I had not planned on staying and had no overnight bag with me, it was no problem because I had my BOB in the car and thus all of the supplies I needed to hole up overnight. Many times over the course of a year, I find myself away from home and in need of a particular item and usually all I have to do is rummage through my BOB to find it.

Here's what's in my BOB:
  • Backpack, sleeping bag (tiny Slumberjack)

  • Food pack (beef jerkey, trail mix, tuna, craisins, M&Ms, instant oatmeal, cup a soup, tea bags, hot chocolate, granola bars, raisins, vitamins).

  • Eating stuff (can of sterno, metal cup, can opener, water bottle, spoon)

  • Toiletries (floss, toothpaste, tooth brush, nail clippers, comb, soap, razor, shampoo, towel, wash cloth, tissue, toilet paper)

  • Shoes/clothing (trail shoes, socks, shorts, T shirt, trousers, fleece jacket, rain jacket, bandanna)

  • First aid kit (moleskin, bandaide, alcohol wipes, aspirin,antibiotics, pain killer, gauze, medical tape, scissors, nitrile gloves, antibacterial ointment)

  • Repair kit (rubber bands, sewing kit, safety pins, duct tape, nails, small gauge wire)

  • Other stuff (playing cards, binoculars, magnifying glass, battery/solar radio, ear phones for the radio, candle, coins, $200 cash, wire saw, Potable Aqua, lighter, fishing kit (hooks, line, sinkers), bug repellent, KaBar knife, knife sharpener, magnesium firestarter/steel, whistle, matches, work gloves, ziploc bags, compass, map, tarp/poncho, para cord, space blanket, hand warmer packets, maglite flashlight, spare batteries, bungee cords, aluminum foil, razor blade, small trowel, spare ammo)

That's what's in my bag. Your bag will probably be different--actually I've never seen two BOBs the same. The premise with this bag is that it contains only the very basics as far as survival supplies go. I will be able to take care of myself with these supplies if I end up in a hotel or in a wilderness area. This bag is not the same as my camping supplies and does not include the items I would take on a multi-week backpacking trip. This is a small, lightweight bag that I can pick up and literally run with if I need to get away ASAP. I've seen some BOBs that weight upwards of 90 pounds which is (IMHO) a ridiculous amount to carry without a Sherpa. On the other hand, these basic items in my BOB are much more than many people in third world countries have in their entire homes so I guess what each person considers "necessary" is relative. Other items that I always have with me: firearm, laptop, Daily Carry bag, jump drive with all of my important documents scanned onto it.

In the event of an evacuation or if I am leaving to Bug Out from my home, I will of course throw as much stuff into the BOV as possible. Everything is organized in the garage by stations and includes bins of camping gear, firearms/supplies, water, food, medical supplies, tools, etc. Each bin can easily be tossed in the BOV and then we really would be able to survive for an indeterminate amount of time away from home.


  1. Some things that many people overlook when building their BOB's are: ZipLoc Freezer bags in Pint, Quart and Gallon sizes, Nylon Wire Ties and Superglue. They are all lightweight and compact, and have many uses.

  2. Thanks for the reminder--I was looking at the zip ties in the garage the other day and thought, I need to put some in my BOB. I'll add the super glue too--aside from it's normal uses, it works very well for gluing cut skin back together.

  3. Any recommendations for what kind of bag one should use? I am in the process of making my first BOB.

  4. The most important thing is that you are actually putting a BOB together--most people don't have one so you are ahead of the crowd! The specific type of bag you use is actually less important but you may want to choose a bag with the following qualities: a backpack instead of a duffle bag (makes for easier carrying), a non-camo bag instead of a camo bag (I can hear the jeers now, but IMHO, a non-camo bag will draw less attention to you), a mid-sized bag (a day pack will probably be too small to carry all of your stuff and an expedition sized bag will be too big and heavy to be able to pick up and run with), a mid-priced bag (a super cheapie bag will probably be reflected in the quality of the bag--likely to fall apart, have crappy zippers, etc--but an expensive bag will be overkill for something you may only use a few times in your lifetime), and a fairly good quality bag; it doesn't have to be of exceptional materials and workmanship but good zippers, good construction, and a sturdy material will help ensure that the bag holds up when you need it.
    I picked up the bag I use quite a while back in Canada. I didn't much like it for travel because it was top loading instead of panel loading and didn't have any outside pockets, however, for use in an emergency I am much less picky--it is the right size to fit all of my supplies, it looks inconspicuous, and it carries the load just fine.
    After you have used your BOB a couple of times (ie: for an overnight bug out drill or during an emergency) you will get a better idea of what works for you.

  5. Thanks for the advice. I have very young children, so for now it seems I actually need my big overnight pack to haul all their stuff in addition to mine. But I will also invest in a small overnight pack when I find a good one on sale.

  6. Not a big fan of the wire saws, I have broken a couple and haven't actually cut much with them. An alternative I have been pretty impressed with is the SabreCut saw. I cut through a three inch piece of birch twice without breaking a sweat and in about five minutes.