This is a guest post by GeorgiaBoy and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
For any of you with a BOB or GHB, congratulations – it’s a big important step to being prepared. But…have you ever taken it for a walk? If not, I urge you to do so. A long walk. It’s the only way to know whether it’s heavier than it ought to be, and to know how fast you can travel with it.
I’m in my 50s, and have done a lot of backpacking. I’ve carried some heavy loads on some long trips, and one thing I can tell you is that it is no fun humping a heavy pack. In looking over many posts on what people include in their BOBs, I often think that people tend to way overload them, trying to be able to meet any contingency. Taking your BOB out will give you an idea of just how heavy it will feel in a bug out situation.
I’d recommend at least a day’s hike, which will give you an idea of just how much ground you can cover. That should give you a much better sense of how long it will take you to reach your BOL than just guessing.
If your bag is too heavy, you’ll need to think hard about what to cut, but one thing I’d cut out of a lot of the loads I see is cooking gear – it may not be as pleasant, but you can certainly live on cold food (protein bars, energy bars) until you reach your BOL. Even in a very cold environment, having enough calories and adequate clothing and sleeping bag are more important that eating hot food (I know, I know, I’m from Georgia, what do I know about cold weather?, but I have done a fair amount of cold weather camping). I have no cooking gear, not even a cup or bowl or fork or spoon in my BOB.
I’d keep some way to start a fire for a cold weather bugout, but keep in mind that a fire may compromise your security, as may cooking over a stove to a lesser degree. I love starting a fire with a magnesium fire starter, but with the weather here and a relatively short distance to my BOL I could forego it.
A lot of BOB gear lists include hunting / fishing / snaring equipment. While I’m a big believer in all these for the long term, they all take time to use – I’d forego them for a BOB unless your trip is so long you cannot pack enough food to make the trip. I want to get to my BOL as soon as possible rather than spend time along the way hunting or fishing.
Clothing choice is obviously dependent on where you will be traveling, but I would recommend wool and fleece garments. while you want to avoid overdressing while on the move, wool and synthetic fleece have the great advantage over cotton of remaining warm when wet, something cotton fails miserably at. Again, try out you clothes on your walk-you don’t want to spend hours walking in pants that chafe or bind. A practice walk is also the time to find out if you have the right shoes, not after TSHTF.
For a warm weather or dry country bugout, water is critically important, but damn if it isn’t heavy. Unless you’re going to be in a desert, I’d take no more than 2 or 3 quart bottles and instead rely on a Lifestraw or something similar if you’ll be crossing streams or creeks. I do carry Gatorade powder. While I am both frugal (cheap?) and old school, if you’re doing a long walk in the heat,
Gatorade definitely beats water.
A tent is another thing to consider leaving out, in favor of a small lightweight tarp or shelter half or bevy sack (like a form fitting tent for your sleeping bag), or just a sleeping bag alone. A down bag is worthless when wet, but a synthetic fiber bag will keep you warm even when wet. I don’t carry a tent but I darn sure carry bug spray to keep from being eaten up at night.
One thing I would absolutely, positively include in any BOB is Dr. Scholl’s moleskin. Blisters can be debilitating and completely screw up you timeline for reaching your BOL, and moleskin is incredibly effective at preventing and protecting blisters. Take care of your feet-stop if you feel a hotspot developing and take care of it. One benefit of a lighter BOB is that, depending on the terrain you’ll be crossing, it may allow you to hike in much lighter shoes than heavy hiking boots, which reduces the chance of blisters.
I have gotten to where I hike and backpack in sneakers on even the roughest terrain, and much prefer them to my heavy boots. Unless you’re used to walking, the practice hike should leave you sore. In a real bug out, expect to be quite sore the second and third days. Usually by the fourth day the soreness will begin fading and you’ll be getting into shape, and the hiking will get easier and maybe faster as well.
If after your practice hike you are still worried that your bag may be overloaded, you may want to add a plastic lawn bag to the BOB, so that you can cache non-essential items during your bug out.
M.D. and The Pack are a great source of knowledge and inspiration to me. I hope this is of some help to the Pack.
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A Volcano Grill courtesy of LPC Survival a $134.99 value, a $150 gift certificate for Remington ammunition courtesy of LuckyGunner, a 60 serving bucket of Wise Freeze Dried Food courtesy of EmergencyFoodWarehouse.com and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain meal a $219.95 value courtesy of Kitchen Neads. Total prize value of $624.93.
- Second place winner will receive – A Sopakco Sure – Pak MRE – 12 Meals courtesy of Campingsurvival.com, a $98.95 value, a Tatsu360 Tenkara Rod a $72.00 value courtesy of Dragontail Tenkara and a one year subscription to Personal VPN service, a $100 value, courtesy of unspyable. Total prize value of $270.95.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on November 10 2013