Product Review: Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag

by Moira M

Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag

I won this bag in a writing contest on The Survivalist Blog. I have to admit that I really had never seriously considered buying a bug-out bag such as this for two main reasons. First, I really like my home setup. I have very few scenarios in which I would consider bugging out. Second, I always had the idea that I could put together such a thing much cheaper myself by purchasing the items separately and putting together a custom piece. And of course, I had long ago put together a bug out bag that I felt was suitable for my situation. Winning this bag has made me a convert, and I’ll explain why.

When ordering online, delivery speed and quality are important. I won this from a writing contest. While they may have hoped I’d write a review on the bag, it was never mentioned. Despite the fact that they didn’t make a penny on this transaction, the bag arrived in a few days (I live in the middle of nowhere) and was very well packaged.

Sometimes when you order a premade kit, the items are of poor quality, not so with this bag. Each item was of good to excellent quality and as good as or better than the items I had assembled in the bag I put together some time ago. Each item also has good value compared to its weight and size. A big part of bugging out would be the concept of actually going somewhere while carrying the bag. This bag weighs a bit less than 15 pounds and I could easily wear it while walking in a neighborhood or forest/hilly terrain. To be fair, I’ve never been athletic. If you see me running you should really keep up because I wouldn’t be running if I weren’t getting away from something very bad. So it is an endorsement for me to say this bag would not slow me down enough to consider leaving it behind.

As mentioned, I live in the middle of nowhere and have some good neighbors. There are very few reasons why I would want to leave in an emergency. One is a forest fire that has snuck up on me. It is possible that someone a few miles away could have a bonfire or control burn that gets out of hand. The woods may prevent me from seeing the smoke until it is too late to do anything constructive and I could possibly be cut off from a road out. In that case, leaving the back way down the mountain and through the woods would be the only option and would have to be done with a minimum amount of prep time. In this case, the bag would come in very handy. We could handle a lengthy hike with family and pets in tow. This would provide food, water, and medical supplies. If we wanted to get a portion of the family to a safe area and have them camp while others went on to summon help, there is a sufficient amount of camping gear to keep people safe and reasonably comfortable.

If I lived in a more urban environment such as where I grew up, this bag would allow me to walk reasonably undetected through the city on the way out to friends or relatives in safer locations. Although the bag is nice and good quality, it doesn’t have the look of a military type of bag. It is something I might have carried in college. There are always scenarios where people would steal literally anything you carried and make you empty your pockets as well. Any backpack would be a problem for that, of course. One idea would be to put the bag inside a guitar case and hope that people thought you had a cheap guitar rather than useful survival gear. This would provide you with the materials to walk for a few days until you could get to a safer area in relative comfort.

I used two sites and two methods to compare the value of the Urban Survival Bug-out Bag: Amazon.com and Walmart.com, as well as trying to match as closely as possible to the item included and to get the cheapest possible alternative of the item. I did not include any value for the Emergency Preparedness Guidebook, Weatherproof Zip bag or the Water Purification Instruction Sheet. These are useful items, but not easy to calculate cost.

The first time, I tried to get the exact item or as close as possible to the quality of the item. When in doubt, I went with the lower amount. For example, I couldn’t find the exact backpack but I found a decent looking adult backpack for $20. I personally feel this would be more expensive for the quality (I’ve bought lots of backpacks at back-to-school time and this one looks to be very good quality and very durable, thus probably more valuable than $20). When there were two of an item and I could only find a five-pack, I prorated the price of two even though you were probably getting a quantity discount in the larger package. By this method, I came up with a total of $171.69, which is a savings of over $30 from the retail price of $139.99 of the Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag.

Next I tried to create the bag as cheaply as possible, even going with lesser but reasonably close items. One example is that instead of the reflective sleeping bag, I substituted an emergency blanket. I believe the reflective sleeping bag is better quality but I was going cheap. Also instead of the good quality backpack, I substituted a cheap $6.88 version that doesn’t have the nice padded shoulder straps, the wonderful outside organization pockets or the durability, but it is a backpack. In this case, I came up with a total of $120.39, a savings of $19.60. I am known for being thrifty (I’m frequently teased about my Scottish ancestry influencing my cheapness), but I would definitely rather buy the Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag instead of putting one together myself. A note I must make in favor of the homemade bag is that you could spread the purchases out over time rather than purchasing the full kit all at once. However, the counter point to that is that you could as easily save up the money over time and purchase the premade bag.

In the kit is an Emergency Preparedness Guidebook and a pamphlet describing the bag.  It suggests adding a few items to customize the bag to your needs including matches/lighter (not included due to shipping restrictions), prescription and over-the-counter medications, personal documentation, and anything necessary to care for pets, special needs family, etc.

Things I would add include: at least two fire making materials (matches, lighter, ferro rod, magnesium block and striker, Swedish steel), prescription and OTC meds (especially ibuprofen because a disaster is likely to be a headache literally and figuratively), copies of personal documentation, a contact list of friends and relatives, a USB flash drive (family photos, home inventory, home and car insurance information), gum/hard candy, leashes/pet treats, collapsible bowl for pets, good lock-blade or fixed-blade knife, house key/car key, a local map, a bandana or two, cash – paper and change (this can be stored attached to duct tape so it doesn’t jingle noisily), and extra wipes/hand sanitizer. This would add little weight or bulk to the existing contents. A sillcock key would be nice also, but is still on my wish list.

This bag is intended to supply two people for 72 hours. This could be supplemented with a second bag for more people or a longer time. Bear in mind that you could not carry a bag with enough supplies and equipment to enable you and your family to strike off across country and live for weeks. Pioneers used horse drawn wagons to do that.

As a side note, caches along the planned route could help. Obviously the caches could be found and looted by people or enterprising raccoons, so you’d want to put in a few more than you think you’d actually need. I haven’t done this yet, but it is a possibility. There’s lots of information about it on the web and on The Survivalist Blog site (http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/how-to-hide-your-guns-and-gear/). Be sure to hide your cache in a safe place to access in a disaster (above a flood plain, out of sight of looters) and a place you can remember. Immediately next to trees might be a bad choice because of roots, but a distance from a tree or other object might work well. To remember where, pick a distinctive feature of the tree or landmark. Then put your back to it and walk away the number of paces in your birth month. Turn to the right and walk the number of paces of your birth day, then dig. You likely won’t own the land, so you may bury a cache only to have it dug up when the land owner develops the property or when the state comes in to do a public works project. When considering what to put in the cache, look at the items in this bag and decide what you will run out of along the way. A change of clothes in a vacuum sealed container might be a good addition as well.

So long story short (too late), I love the Emergency Zone Urban Survival Bug-Out Bag. It is excellent quality and it includes a well-planned list of quality necessary items balanced with low weight and bulk. I’ll be buying these as Christmas gifts for relatives this year. Emergency Zone sells many other products I plan to acquire including water storage cubes, a student kits (for the little/not so little ones to have at school in case of a lockdown), and an office kit. I started out thinking that it was something of a waste of time and money – a gimmick product designed to take advantage of peoples’ fear. But upon thorough review, I think it is a well designed product and a great value.

Comments

  1. Survival Bob says:

    $139.99?? Seems like a lot of $$$ for what you get. Looks like inexpensive Chinese made items “Assembled in the USA”. I think you would be better served by making your own kit with higher quality items and it would cost less, or if you wanted to match the quality of these items I don’t see how you couldn’t do it for much, much less.

    • Moira M says:

      That is what I thought initially. I’d never considered buying something premade like this before. I have an Excel spreadsheet that didn’t get included in which I show where I priced the items from Amazon.com and Walmart.com (using the cheaper of the two sites per item). First, I used the same item or as close to the quality as I could find. It came out slightly higher than this bag. Then I chose the cheapest possible version of the item and came out $30 cheaper. One example is that I substituted a simple emergency blanket for the emergency sleeping bag included in the kit – not the same quality, but could be used instead. The only way to save money is to use cheaper items or not include all of the items.

  2. Good article! I live in an extremely rural area as well, and the whole idea of bugging out is kind of scary! But it’s impossible to predict what may come, so that might become a necessity. After reading this, I’ve come to realize I need to be ready to bail. Now I’m going to revisit everything about bugging out I can find,and start planning. Thanks for opening my eyes!

    • Moira M says:

      I agree. Where we lived before I had a definite plan for making it to this location. Once I lived here full time, I at first believed that there wasn’t much chance of me leaving. But to be prepared you really have to think of what you would do if you had to leave. There’s always a chance of a tornado or wildfire that would cause us to have to live for a short time outside of the residence and until we could get to another place of safety.

  3. mom of three says:

    I looked at what’s in the bag, it seems like some good item’s but for that kind of cash, I was expecting more than what they show.. I made a bag for the four of us and I have more than this bag, has tho I would like to get the water pack’s those will be a great addition to my bag.

    • Moira M says:

      We had also bought similar water pouches for our own emergency bags from Amazon.com. The water tastes fine and reminded my daughter of a juice pouch. They are great for hunting and hiking, in addition to a renewable method like a filtering straw.

  4. Instructor- says:

    Way over price for this BOB. You can build this type of BOB for around $35. Further, for the cost of this BOB as advertised -$139.99, You can build a lot better and professional bag for the same price. Do your own research and you will know what I mean. Many items you already have at home. Surplus items are lower in cost and last much longer under use.

    • Moira M says:

      The Excel Spreadsheet where I priced each item wasn’t published with the article. Without that, it does look like it is overpriced. My point in writing this review was that I had thought it would be an overpriced waste of time to buy a premade bag. I actually looked up each item on Amazon.com and Walmart.com to see how it compared. At same or similar quality item, the bag came out $20 cheaper. When I included all of the items but at the cheapest possible version, I was able to do it for $30 less. So if it includes items that you don’t think you need, you’d be better off to put together your own bag. If you like the items included with the bag, then you are probably better off buying the bag and adding the items to it particular to your situation.

  5. Hi Moira, thanks for the article.

    Does the backpack have extra room for the things one might want to add, or would they have to be really jammed in? Or not able to jam in?

    I’m thinking of stuff like extra socks, a pair of quick drying synthetic underwear, sweater and/or windbreaker, hat, Butt’R lotion to prevent/treat chafing.

    Depending on expected circumstance, I might tie hiking shoes/boots to the outside (with socks and liner socks stuffed in them) and as well as a collapsible hiking stick. Maybe some wire cutters sufficient for chain link fencing. All those depend on personal circumstances, and might be completely unneeded by many people.

    Buying a ready made pack never appealed to me, in part because of questions about quality of the items and cost.

    For those people who want to just buy it and stash it, the better ready mades may work adequately, especially if they give it enough thought to add the stuff peculiar to their own circumstances. If they don’t, my guess is that they won’t be nearly so well prepared as they think, and that could be dangerous.

    Of course, if that is how they go about prepping in general, they are likely to have problems at home, too. You obviously gave some thought to what you will add to your BOB. I hope everybody does!

    Thanks again.

    • Moira M says:

      There is room in the bag for things you want to add to it, especially if you move some of the items from the main compartment into the exterior pockets. You’d want to do that anyway in order to get quick access items where you need them. They even include a list of items that you might want to add such as matches (not included due to shipping regulations), prescription medications, and the like. I think adding extra of the underclothing and socks is great. I don’t know if hiking boots would fit in the bag, but I’ve seen hikers lash them to the outside of their packs before. I didn’t think of a collapsible walking stick. We usually cut one from a sapling if we find ourselves without one, but I think I will look into getting the collapsible version for my pack (that’s one of the great things about this site- you get great ideas from each other).

      In the end, we cannibalized our existing two bags, plus this one to make two great bags, with one of us upgrading to the backpack itself and ditching the old one which was repurposed from college days or something like that.

  6. Chuck Findlay says:

    Any comfortable and durable bag should work. I would avoid a kids school style bag as all the ones I have seen are not too well made.

    Pre-made or homemade (as far as what’s in it) as long as it fits your needs, who cares?

    I tend to like to fill out my own bags but a pre-made one could give a person a quick, ready-made bag to put into use. As long as it has some room for you to add a few personal additions it should work fine.

    I also am not in the bug-out camp so my bags are more get-home bags.

  7. Thomas The Tinker says:

    Moria … Thank you for taking the time to put this piece together. I can’t say I would buy one of these .. Now.. then again, most of us in here have certain skills and training that would make buying one … pointless. It does fill a place in the prepper culture and I thank you for giving it the review it earned. There are those of us that have gotten started this way .. and so it (*) .. the bag .. fills a space and a need. I, for one, would not be upset having one like it. Skip the arguments about quality and quantity. Better with it than not, all the while ‘talking’ about putting one together.

    ( * ) I bought a simple bag from “Major Surplus and Supply” over 25 years ago out in L.A. I still have .. the bag. Its was a canvas Chi-com surplus bag with a 3 day supply of stripped MREs put together by MS&S. It rode around in my truck as my first GHB while working out of town, with a few items added until I did enough homework to put together something better. It got me started. Thank You again…. honest piece.

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