by Moira M
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.