Introduction: How to Make a Bug Out Bag (B.O.B.) or Long Term Survival Kit
In this instructable I will help you make your own personal Bug Out Bag or Bob for short. First off I should tell you what a bob is. A bob is a bag you put together so if an emergency happens you can get out of your house or car fast and get to a safe area. Or a bob can be used in a survival situation to help keep you alive long enough for people to find you.
Types Of Situation That A Bob Would Come In Handy
A Zombie Apocalypse
A Car Crash
If you have to evacuate the city
Hiking in the woods and you get lost
Basically anything you can think of
Some Things That Will Help
A computer or Stores around you (Sheels, Cabelas, Gander Mountain, Dicks Sporting Goods, Walmart, or any store with some sort of camping section)
Some old camping gear
Step 1: Choosing a Good Backpack
First you're going to want to find a bag to use for your kit. Now your first instinct is to probably go to walmart and get just any bag. Now any bag would work but I would not recommend the $20 bag you got at walmart. The reason I wouldn't buy a walmart bag is because they usually don't have a waist strap. Another reason that you don't want to buy a bag from walmart is that they easily break under heavy weight and lots of abuse. Now I am sure that there might be a good bag at walmart and I would love to know so if you find a high quality bag for a good price comment about it.
Now you're wondering what kind of bag should you get. The first things you should look for in a bag are: does the bag have good reviews, does the bag have a waist/sternum strap (These helps center where the weight is and takes some of the stress off of other parts of your body), is it molle compatible (not necessary but nice for attaching things to your pack), and does this bag have a lot of storage (Your going to want to have room for all of your gear). Once you're bag meets all of the qualifications and you think that you found a good bag go to youtube and see if anyone has done a video review on the bag (This is mainly to see what you are going to get). If you can't find any good bags here are some good companies that make bags are Condor, Maxpedition, 5.11 Tactical, and the Bear Grylls bags by Gerber.Those are some of the main things to look for in a bag. But if you don't want to do any research on a bag I would suggest the Condor 3-day Assault Pack. You can find it on amazon for around $80-100.
Now maybe you're looking for a cheaper alternative for your bag, then I would check out a military surplus store for a bag or an alice pack. You can also find alice packs on place like ebay.
Step 2: Choosing a Knife
Now there are many good knives on the market. But how do you know they are going to last and not fail when you need them. Well the first thing you're going to need to know is how to distinguish a good or excellent knife.
Finding A Good Knife
First look at the knife characteristics and ask is this knife full tang. Full tang means the tang of the blade extends all the way through the handle. Most of the time you want this type of knife because it will be stronger so you can use it for batoning wood or even cutting down a small tree. But you could pack something with a rat tail tang. A rat tail tang extends about halfway through the handle and comes to a point. This type of tang is not good for batoning and chopping. But it can be used for it but you do have a higher risk of breaking your knife.
After that you should look at the edge of the knife. The two most common edges I know are plane edge or serrated edge. Plain edged knives are mostly used for chopping, slicing, skinning, carving fighting, etc. so they are mostly a good all around edge type. Serrated edges are used for sawing, cutting, whittling, and cutting rope or paracord. This makes serrated knives good for cars and if you get caught in ropes. Another good thing about serrated knives are that they stay sharper longer. So in the end its up to you for what type of edge to have on the knife.
Next you're going to want to see what kind of blade type the knife is. Is the knife drop point, normal straight, cut point, American/Japanese tanto, or something else (that was just me listing off a few). For a bob you're going to want a knife that has either drop point or normal straight because they are good for carving, piercing, drilling, and much more. The types are also strong and usually used on most survival brand knives. I wouldn't recommend a tanto style blade because they are meant more for fighting and not survival.
Finally you should look to see where the knife is made. Now just because the knife is made in China doesn't mean it is a bad knife. Some examples of this are the companies Gerber (not the baby food company), Schrade, and SOG.. Gerber, Schrade, and SOG makes knives both in the U.S. and in China. I have had the same Gerber knife for a while now and it still has the original factory edge and I put it through a lot of beating including throwing it at trees and logs, carving, opening and closing it again and again and again, dropping it onto rocks, using it as a ice pick (I would not suggest this it is very easy to cut yourself on the ice), etc. But if you are looking for something made in the U.S. I would go with a company like Ka-Bar or a Buck.
Some knives I would suggest are the Schrade SCHF9 Extreme Survival Knife, KA-BAR Full Size US Marine Corps Fighting Knife, Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Fixed Blade, or the Ka-Bar Becker BK2. If you're looking for something a little cheaper then I would go with any Morakniv (more commonly called Mora). They are made in Sweden and seem to have tons of great reviews. But most of them are rat tail tang knives.
Multitools and Folding Knives
Maybe you want to go with some sort of folding knife or multitool because you plan on bringing an axe. Some things to look for in a folding knife or multitool is does the blade of the knife wiggle a ton when the blade locks or does the blade even lock. Most of the time you're going to want the blade to lock because of safety reasons. Next you should see how the blade opens, is it an auto blade or a manual knife. If you're looking at multitools see what tools are on them and would they be useful. Some suggestions of folding knives are the Gerber Remix, Benchmade 940 Osborne Design Knife, Gerber Counterpart Folding Knife (this is the one I was talking about above), SOG Specialty Knives & Tools FF38-CP Fielder Knife, and Spyderco Tenacious Plain Edge Knife. Some good mutitools are almost anything by Leatherman just to list a few the wingman, the wave, and the surge, SOG Specialty Knives & Tools S66N-CP PowerAssist Multi-Tool, and the Gerber Dime.
Step 3: Shelter
Shelter is probably tied in importance to water. If you don't have a shelter you are exposed to the elements and everything else in the area. This could actually be considered a skill in some ways but I will get to that in a bit. If you are looking to buy some sort of shelter you should know what types of shelter there are and what conditions they are good for.
The first shelter type that might come to mind is a tent. Tents make great shelter but are heavy and some what big when strapped to a backpack. But in most cases they will keep you warm and out of the weather. I carry a two person tent because I am 6' 2'' so I need something a bit bigger. For most people you could go with more of a one person tent that is compact and doesn't have a lot of rods that could get lost. One example is something like the Wenzel Current Hiker Tent. Most people say that it very light and small when packed up. How do you know you have a good tent? Well the only way I really found out is to read reviews on the tent you are looking to purchase. See if the tent is big enough for you and see if the tent fits all of your needs.
Another type of shelter you can get is a hammock set up. These types of setups are very popular because they are small light and easy to set up. But most of the time you need to purchase the rain fly or tarp separate from the hammock. In my experience hammocks are great in the summer because most hammocks are made of thinner materials that let air through. But when it comes to any colder climate they are bad. The reason they are bad in cold climates is that you would have wind blowing under you and wind blowing above you. Just like bridges you will freeze faster than if you are on the ground. Now don't get me wrong they are still very good. Here is an example of a hammock setup: Ultimate, Compact, Single-person Adventure Hammock. This is the type of hammock that I ended up buying and it has held up great so far.
Sleeping bags are another type of shelter that you can get and with so many different types of sleeping bags they really can fit in most situations. Some things to look for in the sleeping bag that you are going to get are does it fit the weather patterns in the area I live in (don’t get a sleeping bag that is rated for -32 degrees fahrenheit if it never gets cooler than 50 outside), how will it stand up over a long time, and is it big enough for you (you don’t want something too small so you don’t fit). I really don’t have any sleeping bags to suggest. It really depends on the area you live in for the type of sleeping bag you choose.
Finally you could build your shelter in the wild. This is the skill I was talking about above. This skill can be difficult to do. But after a little trying you should get it. There are many ways to build a shelter you could build a shelter off of a fallen tree or basically anything that you can think of. The problems with building your own shelter is that you expend a lot of calories doing it and your shelter might not turn out. Another thing that can be bad about making your own shelter is that it could fall in on you. Don't get me wrong making a shelter in the wild is a great skill to have and when you get good at it you can make shelters that will keep you warm all night.
Step 4: Water Filtration and Storage
Water is a very important thing in the wild or bug out situation. One thing you're going to need is a way to filter water. The first and the best is just boiling water. From my information it will kill 100% of bacteria from the water. This isn't always an option especially when you are on the move. So now it comes down to a water filter or iodine drops or tablets.
Now the first thing to look for in a water filter is how good is it at filtering out as much bacteria as possible. Something else you should look for is what type of filter does the filter have. Some filters have charcoal filters (charcoal filter leave a charcoal taste behind) others use carbon. Also see how many gallons of water does it filter before it goes bad or you have to clean it. those are just some of the thigs to base finding a filter. Some suggestions for filters are the Lifestraw (I saw someone use it to drink water out of the Mississippi River and they were find so I think it proves how good it is), the Sawyer Squeeze (This is the filter I use and I haven't got sick yet, Sawyer Mini (smaller version of the Sawyer Squeeze if you ask me), and the Katadyn Vario Water Filter (very high end water filter).
Next is Iodine tablets or drops. Iodine drops and tablets can be good if you have about an hour to wait for the tablets to kill the bacteria. There don't seem to be many pros to using these because they expire, leave a weird taste behind, take a long time to work, and you need to be exact in how many tablets or drops you put in your water. One plus I could see is that they are more affordable than a water filter and they are in small containers so they don't take up a lot of space. Now I have to say that I haven't used these before but I have some that I want to use.I just need to find the time to try them.
One thing you're going to need is a water container to carry your water you find in. Some of the most common types of containers are a nalgene bottle, a canteen, and water bladders. You also have Platypus bags which work to.
Nalgene bottles are nice because you can find molle compatible gear to put them in and you can buy nesting cups for them. Nalgene bottles vary in size and width. Most of the time they are wide mouthed and about hold about 2 liters of water. So one bonus to carrying something like this is that you have more water storage. Also if you can find a nesting cup that fits your bottle you have a cup you can boil water in. So those are the upsides to it.
Canteens are very commonly used by the military. Most canteens are the same size and come with their nesting cup. They hold around a liter of water so they are smaller than a nalgene bottle, but this makes it easier to know how many tablets you need to use to purify the water you put in the canteen. You cant really find any molle gear for military canteens.
Water bladders can usually hold 2 liters of water. You can even hook some water filters right into the bladder making filtering water really easy. Not only are these easy to fill and filter if your backpack is water bladder compatible you have hands free water drinking. Water Bladders can be a down side if your bag is not water bladder compatible.
Step 5: Fire and Fire Tinders
Ways of creating fire are very important things to have inside of your bob. Fire can keep you warm during the day and night. It can also cook your food on fire and use it to dry out your clothes if they get wet. So now you see how important fire can be during a bug out or survival situation. Now you're going to probably want to know some ways to create fire and there are many ways.
One of the first ways that probably comes to mind is a Bic lighter or maybe a Zippo lighter. Now these are great ways of starting fire. They are easy to use and when a Bic lighter is all out of fuel you still can use it to start a fire. But as you probably know they don't work the best in cold, wet, and windy climates. I think that everybody has been in a situation where they've been trying to get a fire going for over an hour in a cold environment and their lighter doesn't work.
So the next thing you might think of is matches. There are many different types of matches here are a few that I can list off for you: strike anywhere, cardboard, basic, and wind/waterproof. So what kind of matches are the best? Well most matches are good, but the best would have to be the wind/waterproof matches. I personally have seen someone light on of these and stick it into water for 30 seconds and pull it out and it was still going so I think that the matches prove to be the best. I would have to say that strike anywhere matches would have to be the next best because you can light them almost anywhere. The one type of match that I don't like is the cardboard matches because they are hard to light and don't last long. This is a personal opinion so it is really up to you on what you pack. I do though pack every type of match that I listed.
Now I'll tell you some fire starters that you might not know about. I will start with the ferrocerium rod (more commonly known as a ferro rod). A ferro rod throws hot sparks that can be used to start fires. One thing that you should know is that it takes a bit of skill to use them. That means if you're going to get one learn how to use it be for you take it out and try to survive with it. In the end ferro rods are great fire starters. Not only do they work in the rain, cold, and wind, but they also are easy to use. Some good ferro rods are the Bear Grylls ferro rod, the Light My Fire ferro rod, and the Exotac fireROD ferro rod.
One final note on fire starters is that you could use some kind of tea cup candle to use to start a fire but that is just something to try. Also you should pack at least three different types of fire starters in your kit and keep them in waterproof containers or bags, so if the container or bag gets wet the fire starter doesn't.
There are lots of good things that you can use as fire tinder. Some of them are birch bark, chapstick (very flammable), cotton balls, sawdust, etc. All of those fire starters I listed are good it is just good to try to back a couple of them in your kit. I personally pack birch bark because it has a lot of oils in it that makes it really flammable.
Step 6: First Aid
First aid can be very important in the wilderness, so it would be good to have some sort of first aid kit in your pack. Even if it is just a couple of different types of bandages is better than nothing.
The first things that you could look for in a good first aid kit is does this kit have first aid instructions. First aid instructions can be good especially if you don't know much about first aid. Make sure that the first aid instructions cover a wide variety of different types of situations. It is good to cover many different types of situation because you never know what is going to happen when you are trying to bug out.
Next you should see if the kit fits your needs. You should ask does it have enough bandages, does this kit have asprin, does this kit cover what I need? These are good questions to ask because it can help get rid of kits that just aren't going to cover your needs.
Another thing you should think of is can I put anything else into this kit. This part would apply to people who have medication they need to take or if you have any allergy medication that you need.
Step 7: Tools
It is always good to have a variety of different tools with you in your bob. The three most important tools to have in your kit are a good axe, a folding or take down saw, and a flashlight.
The first thing to look for in an axe is what type of axe is it. This is good to know because you don't want axe head that is meant for splitting wood if you plan on going out and cutting down trees. Next thing you want to know is how long is the handle. Different sized handles can be good for different tasks. It will be easier to cut down a tree with an axe that has a handle that is 20 inches long compared to an axe that has a 12 inch handle (if you're looking for something compact then go with a smaller handle or a hatchet). Finally you should look at reviews of the axe. Make sure you don't see a lot of reviews that say the edge of the axe rolled or the axe chipped really easily. These are red flags and if you are seeing a lot of these types of reviews then I wouldn't go with it. Some axes that I would recommend are Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe, the Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Hatchet, and Fiskars X15 Chopping Axe. Now axes are not the only tool that you can carry to get chopping tasks done. Some other good chopping tools that work great to split logs (using Batoning) or chop down trees are the Parang, the Kukri, or a good full tang knife. If you're looking for a good parang that is affordable I would go with the Bear Grylls Parang. If you're looking for a good Kukri and you're willing to spend a bit more money I would go with the Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri. Finally if you want to go with the knife I would go with the Ka-Bar Becker BK7.
Two things to consider when looking for a folding saw are mainly how small is it (this is more for your needs and how much room you have in your bob) and how are the reviews on the saw (just to make sure you don't buy something that isn't going to last). Those are the two main things to look for in a folding saw. A good and affordable folding saw on the market is the Bahco 396-LAP Laplander Folding Saw. This saw works fast and has tons of great reviews.
The last important tool is going to be a flashlight. Flashlights can be a great comfort at night and give you a sense of security. They also can help see during the night or in dark areas. What should you look for in a flashlight? Well the first thing you should look for is how bright is the flashlight. You're going to want a bright flashlight so you can see what is in the dark. The last thing you want to have is a flashlight that doesn't light up what's in front of you and then you end up running into a tree. The next thing you want to look for in a flash light is what it is made of. If you have a flashlight that is made of aluminium it will less likely break if you drop then a flashlight that is made of plastic. A good company that makes flashlights is Maglite. Their flashlights are made in the USA out of high quality materials and they are quite affordable. Something else that you could put in your bag if you don't want a flashlight is a headlamp. Basically everything above applies to headlamps too.
A good mess tin is always a good thing to have. Not only can you cook your food in it but you can also prepare stuff and boil water in it. Having something to boil water in is always a good thing to have because it is the best way to filter your drinking water. Some good types of mess kits that you can pick up are the Czech Round Mess Kit, the US Style Mess Kit, and the French Three Piece Mess Kit. These are all good mess kits, but when you pick the one that you are going to use make sure it fits your needs. Another mess kit alternative could be a nesting cup. A nesting cup would be a very minimum mess kit.
A shovel is more of a convenience tool. You really don't need one in your kit, but when you have one nothing can beat it. Some things to look for in a good shovel are can it fit in my kit, how durable is it, and will it hold up in the wild. So with those standards there are about two different shovels that would be good that I know about. The first one is the Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel. This shovel is good because it is small and if the handle breaks you can easily replace it with a stick in the woods because there are two screws on the side that can be taken out with a multitool. The only down side to this shovel is that it doesn't come with a sheath to protect the head of the shovel. The second shovel is a folding shovel. With a folding shovel there are very few things that can go wrong because it is all made out of metal. Also a folding shovel can fold up to be about the size of a military canteen. That is about all I can say about shovels.
Step 8: Plastic Bags
From a trash bag to a snack bag, some sort of plastic bag is always good to have in your bob. Bags can be used in so many different ways and that makes them so useful in survival situations. We will start off by talking about the trash bag.
Trash bags can be useful in tons of ways. First they are easy to roll up and put in your bob. So this means that you will barely know that they are there. Next are the uses of trash bags. The amount of stuff you can make with a trash bag or two is crazy. With a little thought you can make some sort of cover for your bob so when it starts to rain your stuff doesn't get wet or you could make a poncho so you don't get wet. Another thing you can use a trash bag for is to make bedding. If you go around and put leaves in a trash bag you could have a nicer bed to sleep on during the night (also could make a pillow). Now I think you can see why a trash bag might be a good thing to pack.
Small bags can prove useful in smaller situations. The first main thing you can use a small bag for is to waterproof your small items (matches, lighter, food, etc.). The last thing you want is your gear some how getting wet. Another thing you can use a small bag for is to carry water. Now carrying water in a small bag can be a bit difficult but let that stop you. If you get bags with seals on them it makes moving water a walk in the park.
Step 9: Rope or Cordage
Something that most people always have in their bob is some kind of cordage or rope. There are many different types of rope and cordage, but the most populare to carry in a bob or survival kit is paracord.
Paracord if definitely the most popular type of cordage in the survival community. The reason paracord is probably one of the most popular is probably because it has so many uses. You can make survival bracelets , fishing nets, bags, fishing lures, etc. Also if you can take the inner strands of the paracord out. The inner strands of the paracord can be used as fishing line, fire tinder, etc. Those are just some suggestions for what you can use paracord for. With a little thought you can almost make anything out of paracord. Paracord can also be used for almost anything a regular rope can do.
Other types of rope can be used for a lot of stuff to, but most of the time you use it for tying stuff up. But still it can be very useful when you need it. If you have some good rope you can use it to repel down a cliff or mountain (also climbing up). Some other stuff rope can do is hold up your shelter, tying sticks together, and much more. Also some bigger rope works good for dragging stuff around.
Step 10: Food and Random Stuffs
Food rations are something that I would suggest to pack. Lets get to it. Some things you should look for in the food that you are going to pack is does it have a long expiration date (over a year) and does it have a lot of the stuff you are going to need when you are buged out. Some things that meet these qualifications are Beef Jerky, SOS approved rations, Clif Bars, military mre (Meal Ready to Eat), and the dehydrated hiker meals. Some other good food that you can pack is instant oatmeal and noodles.
This is just going to be some random stuff that is good to have in your kit. Hopefully in the future I will go into more detail in why these items are good.
A Good File
A Small Sharpening Stone
A Mosquito Head Net
A Space Blanket
Some survival instruction books (some good ones are the SAS Survival book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills, and The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide)
Pen or Pencil
Maps of the area
Some survival training is always good
Any other stuff you think would be important
Hopefully this guide helped you creating your bug out bag. I plan on making updates to this as I learn new stuff and find new gear that can be useful.
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