Everyone needs a good “holy crap [insert disaster here] is coming we need to be prepared” bag. I know everyone needs one because FEMA told me so. And in the days before Irene hit the East Coast I was glad that my bag had been packed and ready to save my ass since Freshman year at university. So here’s today’s question: Do you guys have a survival bag? If so, what’s in it? Specifically, what guns and ammo? If you don’t have a bag, either head over to SurvivalBlog.com to start getting some ideas or make the jump for FEMA’s list.

 Recommended Items To Include In A Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items To Consider Adding To An Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) – PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

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64 Responses to Question of the Day: What’s in YOUR SHTF bag?

  1. AK-47, Glock 34 & U.S. Constitution.

    But seriously, the crazies are going to come out of the woodwork on this post. Commenting, in detail, on every piece of kit they own.

    • The extremely long winded maybe. Crazies….meh….

      I hate to call anyone who takes time and pride in their self preparation plans and gear “crazies”. It’s a hobby that at least has the benefit of being useful in the event of disaster.

      I have had friends sort of chuckle when they hear me talk about being prepared and storing necessary supplies. Then quickly retreat to their basement where they dress in a train conductors costumes and engage their thousand dollar scale locomotives; or who head to the lake on their 2nd mortgage to sail for a couple hours before the warm weather retreats.

      Crazy is subjective.

      • My habit of being prepared has already saved my life once and made life a lot easier twice.

        About 15 years back I was driving on a back road in rural Maine in the dead of winter when my car died. No cell phone, no idea where the nearest house was and the temp outside was zero and dropping. Because my bug out bag was in the trunk I not only didn’t freeze to death I didn’t even have to miss dinner, and 15 hours later when a trooper came by and found me I was just fine.

        I live now in a small village in upstate New York that’s accessible by a single overpass. Twice in the last 10 years the village has been cut off because of extreme weather… no power, no phone, no way for cars to get in or out. Didn’t bother me at all, except I missed using my Playstation.

        And just this past weekend while people were panicing and getting into fights over Poland Spring in the supermarket I just went home like any other day and hunkered down. When you’re ready for the zombie apocalypse a hurricane is just another storm.

        There’s nothing crazy about being prepared. If you ask me the truly insane behavior is to be happily un-prepared.

        • Sounds like your next purchase should be a generator that can power your tv and your playstation.

        • Amen Brother. I Agree 100%. When I was stationed in Fairbanks AK, I drove the ALCAN Highway there. It was a great trip. But the military ensured that both myself and my car where up the trip before the would let me drive it.

  2. My family and I all have old USMC ALICE packs. Our bags are set up with 2 goals in mind. Carry what we need to survive short term and self sustained on our back; and carry what tools wee need to survive long term in our planned retreat terrains. We will move to a “Gray Man” type pack this year.

    Obviously, our firearms are part of that plan, and our overall firearms are selected with our capabilities in mind. We train regularly with all that we have.

    But our plan is to homestead, and we provision for that as our primary goal.

  3. I think anyone who reads a blog like this knows the basics of a BoB (fire, water, shelter, food, first aid and self defense). Some additional items I pack are:

    – a waterproof flash drive that has hi-res scans of all my important documents. Unless society has completely collapsed I’ll be able to find a PC to retrieve them (and if it has collapsed such papers are useless anyway).
    – a solar charger that will keep my Kindle, iPod and Android functioning at a basic level indefinitely.
    – My 3G Kindle is on the list of things to grab on the way out. It has many reference books with useful SHTF information, games and books for entertainment and the web browser can help with communication.

    I consider the electronic stuff to be backup gear, I’m not betting my life on it. But in small scale situations where you have to bug out but the world isn’t quite ending they can make things a lot easier.

    • Call me crazy – but I too have a 3G kindle that I keep about 500 “survival books” on. Pair that up with a solar charger and, unless we’re in some sort of nuclear winter, you’re carrying a a small library.

      I guess you could also use a hand-crank.

      • A Kindle is also useful for communications if the Web and/or cell phone network is still up. During the earthquake this month, Twitter and text messages would go through where voice cell calls wouldn’t.

        Also, on my iPhone, I have a police/fire radio scanner app and a Red Cross first aid app. The map function is good for sending rescuers your exact location, and the camera can be used to document damage for insurance purposes.

        And I love the flash drive idea. I gottta add that to my bag posthaste.

  4. Iodine pills for radiation, Browning Buckmark in the bag for taking small game. My 1911 goes on my hip when SHTF and my 12GA zombie gun will not fit in the bag.

    • That is what the three point tactical sling is for, shotgun hangs in front cause bag is on back, ready to go at moments notice.

  5. Just for Indy Eric’s benefit, here are the contents of my “survival bag.” Goes with me anytime I go out in the woods (Except a backpacking trip, in which case I carry only the smaller, lighter objects)

    Multi-use
    1. Very small folding knife
    2. Larger “Survival” type knife for chopping, etc.
    3. Pencil style Diamond knife sharpener
    4. Small Gerber-brand axe
    5. Small AA Battery LED Flashlight with strobe
    6. Garrote type saw
    7. Camo and green Para-cord
    8. Survival kit in a can (Small commercial kit containing small essentials)
    9. Two compasses
    10. Leatherman tool
    11. Aluminum Foil (Signaling food prep, fire reflector, emergency container, etc )
    12. Large zip-ties (For shelter, splints, etc)
    Signaling
    1. Air Force signal mirror
    2. H&K Flare pistol with 26.5 mm flares
    3. Military-type Smoke Grenade
    4. Strobe with D-Cell Battery (for night signaling)
    5. Magnesium fire starter
    6. Aluminum foil
    7. Small AA Battery LED Flashlight with strobe
    8. Emergency foil “blankets”
    Water capture and purification
    1. .7 Mil 9x 12 plastic drop cloth for solar still
    2. 6 feet clear plastic hose
    3. Small container
    4. Duct tape
    5. Iodine tablets
    6. Collapsible Nalgene bottle
    7. U.S. Army 1 quart canteen and cover
    Fire Starters
    1. Magnesium fire starters
    2. Steel wool (use with D-Cell from Strobe)
    3. Small bag of dryer lint
    4. Small magnifying glass
    5. Glycerin & Potassium permanganate (sealed, packaged separately, etc)
    Animal collection
    1. .22 cal insert for H&K pistol, and 100 rounds CCI ammo (including birdshot)
    2. Mouse traps and rat trap (good trip wire device).
    3. Fishhooks and monofilament line
    4. Mosquito netting (for catching frogs, minnows, bait etc.)
    5. U.S. Army issue tripwire
    6. 4 ea “Yo-yo” fishing devices
    7. Trot line
    8. Peanut butter packet from MRE (for baiting traps, etc)
    9. Cracker packet from MRE (For baiting traps, etc)
    10. Small vial of Rodenone insecticide (fish-killer)
    Shelter
    1. U.S. army poncho
    2. Duct tape
    3. Heavy duty garbage bags (also useful for creating floatation devices).
    4. Emergency foil “blankets”
    First Aid Kit
    1. first aid kit supplemented to address larger burns and lacerations
    2. Neosporin cream
    3. Blood clot
    4. U.S. Army issue compresses
    5. Butterfly sutures
    6. Tape
    7. Burn gel
    8. Tick remover
    9. Scissors
    10. Various small clamps and other medical tools
    Food
    1. SoS food labs Emergency food rations (Each packet contains 9 fortified food bars providing 3682 Kcal)
    2. MRE accessory packet (suger, salt, pepper, coffee, creamer, etc)
    Misc. Snivel gear
    1. Mosquito netting
    2. Small container of sun tan lotion
    3. Carmex lip balm
    4. Small container of 100% deet insect repellent
    5. German military issue emergency sunglasses

    • Did you type out all that whole list just now, or do you keep the inventory.doc on your desktop in case someone asks?

      • An axiom in preparedness goes “two is one, one is none”. Since this stuff is for use in a worst case scenario it’s best to have a spare everything.

      • “Because two is one and one is none” applies to your BOB, too.

        Also, let’s say your in the woods with friends and need to split up. How will they know where they’re headed?

      • @ Rebecca: Over the years, I’ve done a lot of land navigation in remote environments, and I find that it is easy to lose confidence in your compass, esp. in stressful situations. 99% of the time your compass is correct, and any directional instinct you may have to the contrary is wrong. Nonetheless, having a second compass is a good way to convince yourself that the damn thing is still working. There are wasy to make field expedient compasses (using water and razor blades, or the sticks and sun method, for example), but having a second compass is more accurate, repeatable, and takes less time to check. By the way, usually if your compass is “wrong” its because you are using too close to a large metal object.

  6. We’re starting to put together our BOB bags. One question we’ve come up against and don’t have a good answer for is, assuming that we have to leave our apartment for whatever reason, how much ammo to carry with us?

    • Short answer: “Enough.”

      Longer answer: Depends on the firearm and your situation. An apartment means city dwelling, what you should carry for personal protection depends on what you have and what the attitude to open carry is in your locale. If a concealed pistol is all you can carry, carry at least two extra mags. If you can open carry a rifle or shotgun, that’s different.

      • We live in North Carolina. So far, it’s not illegal for open carry (though there’s always the call to the police for a “person with a gun!” scenario). We’ve 9mm handguns, and considering the Kel Tec sub 2000 9mm. We’ve got like 8 magazines each for the handguns, will have something like 4 each for the Kel Tecs, and figured on 200-400 more rounds each. Yeah, a lot of weight, but… better safe than sorry, we thought. You guys are suggesting that what we had thought of might be overkill, so to speak.

    • My take?

      If you are in earthquake or hurricane country, you’re going to want mobility AFTER the incident passes. If you have a motorcycle, cool. If not, it will be foot or bicycles, and you’ll may need to go 50-100 miles which will take 1 to 4 days depending on mode, propensity for century bike rides or marathons, etc. (Cars or trucks? Forgetaboutit)

      Under your own power, weight is the enemy: You’re already going to want lots of water and a fair number of gels or bars for fuel.

      If you have a .22 and you are going to bring a gun, that’s the gun you’ll want to bring, and not that much ammo, I’d personally go for 50 rounds of Velocitor .22 and no more.

      Two reasons: A: its good ammo. B: It comes in tough plastic boxes of FIFTY rounds.

      Tornado country? Who cares, you only need to get a mile perpendicular to the storm’s path to be back in intact infrastructure. You can be walking like Jessie Ventura in Predator and be just fine…

    • Rebecca,

      There’s probably no hard/fast rule for the ammo. It’s fun to say “more than you’ll need” but the problem with ammo is that it’s heavy. And a heavy BOB will just make you angry.

      My wife and I have what we call a “standard loadout”. She carries an AK and I carry an M1A. She has 7 mags (6 in a carrier, 1 in the rifle) and I have 9 (8 + 1). Her mags are loaded to 25 rounds for 175 rounds total. I have my mags loaded to 20 for 180 rounds total. 175 & 180 rounds might not seem like much (to some folks) but it’s a lot of weight.

      For our handguns, it’s 3 mags each plus a full box for reloads. She carries a 40 S&W, I carry a 45 ACP. And I can tell you, 50 rounds of 230-grn 45 ACP is not light!

      If we’re in a BOB situation, we’d much rather be moving than shooting.* So we emphasize mobility over firepower, lightness over volume. YMMV…

      TCM

      * If we’re shooting, we’ve probably done something wrong. If we run out of ammo, we’ve probably done something very wrong!

      • If we’re in a BOB situation, we’d much rather be moving than shooting. … If we’re shooting, we’ve probably done something wrong. If we run out of ammo, we’ve probably done something very wrong!

        Agreed, entirely.

  7. The most valuable piece of gear I have and use is my katadyn pocket water filter. People always think of the rifles, ammo, food etc etc. but the most important thing is water and purification tablets run out a lot faster than you think!

    I’ve used it so much I’ve actually replaced the filter twice which is unheard of. You can’t do much of anything else without fresh water…a lot of it!

      • We have a cat that we’ll try to put on a leash.

        We also have four pet rabbits. We’ve talked briefly about it, and with sad faces and sideways glances at each other, we’ve agreed that if the SHTF, the four rabbits become food. 🙁

  8. I’m a Californian. The SHTF is a major quake.

    At work: A cheap-A** backpack with about 4L of water in it, a crowbar, a flashlight, a head-mounted flashlight, and a ton of powerbars.

    When Miss San Andreas throws up the big one, if I’m at work, once I dig myself out I’m borrowing a bicycle from a local coworker and going to be riding the 40 miles home. (Big earthquakes SERIOUSLY fubar the roads for cars and trucks, significantly inconvenience motorcycles, but have almost no effect apart from annoyance for bicyclists).

    Home? No BAG packed per se (single story wood-frame house, we will be able to get stuff out), but lots of food, water, a fully charged Sawzall, digging bars, etc etc etc. I’m planning on staying put for a day or two and then deciding what to do: If power will be back reasonably soon, I’ll just sit tight.

    If not, its going to be find out where the epicenter was, syphon enough gas from various vehicles we have to fully gas up the appropriate motorcycle, drill holes in the side-bags to make them cat-carriers, and Get Outta Dodge. 50 miles from the epicenter should be reasonable, 100 should be civilization again. Once I get to civilization, its head down to LA…

  9. I don’t have a BoB, but I do have a waterproof flood bag. Flooding is more of an issue around here than zombies, because most zombies have been elected to high public office in Boston and are relatively tame. I keep money, a gun and ammo. A radio. An extra charged battery for the cell phone. Candles. Matches. Clothes (depends on the season). Food. Prescription and OTC drugs. A small first aid kit with a tourniquet (just received training in its use). And two rolls of Charmin because, hey, you never know.

  10. I went to the “www.ready.gov” website and then wrote them that they “forgot” to include firearms in the list of suggested items. Got a lame response back.

  11. There are plenty of people (like the folks at ready.gov) who pretend that a weapon isn’t an essential part of a BOB or even explicitly advise against packing one. I think this attitude is the very worst kind of wishful thinking and shows that the person has no understanding of human nature at all.

    It’s true that crises bring out the best in people, but they also undeniably bring out the worst. To assume that a mass of frightened, displaced people contains not one person willing to take what you have by force is lunacy.

  12. I picked up a couple of cheap Princeton LED headlamps. They’re amazingly bright, they point where you look (assuming proper use), they free up your hands, and because they’re LED they’re good on batteries.

  13. A thought…

    Test your BOBs.

    The Missus and I have our bug-out gear set up in two stages, much of it “pre-prepared” and fairly well documented for contents and final packing procedures.

    Stage 1 is what we’re discussing here: BOBs. It’s what can be carried on our backs and in our hands: backpacks with food, water, a change of clothes, and (very basic) shelter. Some meds, firearms/ammo, and good, sturdy boots.

    Stage 2 is what we call the “Amenities Package”. Nothing we can carry on our backs, but lots we can load into the trucks. Much more food, much, much more water, and a variety of clothing. Lots of ammo and spare parts. Creature comforts like a big tent, generator (and fuel), Coleman stove, lanterns, cots/mattresses, etc. And a complete, self-contained ham radio station. (We’re both licensed: the Missus a General, I an Extra.)

    We figured that Stage 1 would take about 15 minutes to final-pack and Stage 2 another half-hour. We figured…

    At work (I’m an engineer) we have a saying: if it hasn’t been tested, it doesn’t work. So last year we decided to test our BOB stages. We chose (ham radio) Field Day for the test. We have a little chunk of primitive land about 100 clicks from the house and we planned to bug-out there for the weekend.

    The day arrived. We hit the stopwatch, grabbed the plans, and set ourselves to it. Stage 1 went pretty much as planned. About 20 minutes instead of 15. Not a bad guess. Stage 2 was a whole ‘nuther matter. What we thought would take an additional half-hour took almost two. We were exhausted and sweaty — and so much for getting out in less than an hour after the balloon goes up. It was a real eye-opener!

    Other than the grossly miscalculated time crunch for loading up, the weekend as a whole went rather well. We lacked for nothing other than one of those solar-heated shower bags.

    But we really wanted to beat that one-hour mark. So as part of the test’s “post-mortem”, we broke Stage 2 into two parts. Stage 2 morphed into (the new) Stage 2 and Stage 3. We had to think long-n-hard about what to shift to Stage 3. It was mostly the ham radio gear. (We kept a small QRP/CW — aka, Morse code — radio and simple antenna in Stage 2…) <shameful admission> Unfortunately, we haven’t tested a loading of the new stages yet. </shameful admission>

    So, in summary: test your BOBs.

    HTH…

    TCM

  14. Another question about a BOB bag: how does one go about getting a supply of prescription meds for the bag? Yeah, I can ask my doctor for a ‘script for it, but is it that simple? What about people who go to a clinic for their meds?

  15. Margaret came up with an excellent question as we talked about our pets and a SHTF event: how ethical is it to have pets that cannot simply be released into the wild or taken with you? For instance, our rabbits. They’re domesticated, living in cages pets. Releasing them into the wild is literally a death sentence, because they have no understanding of predators. No understanding of how to find food, water, or shelter. They would likely be dead inside of 12 hours of release.

    • NOT AN INSULT!!!!! But you seriously underestimate natural instinct. All prey animals will flee anything that is bigger than them or does not look like it’s mother. They will be fine. But If they are capable of breeding you should keep them. Rabbits are an endless supply of meat. See Fibonacci. Which combined with a firearm for protection should let you barter for almost anything in a zombie world. But back to the B.O.B….

  16. Shortly after 9-11 I got assigned to the DoD “doomsday team.” I put together my SHTF bag as per recommendations and threw it in trunk ready to go. I participated in quite a few exercises all which had the property of telling where and how I would get to the doomsday site. I always wondered what would have happened had they run a no notice exercise at 1500 on a Friday before a three day weekend let alone the real thing.

    When the SHTF the chances are your bag will not be where you want it. Your plan, like all plans before it, will not survive first contact with reality [to paraphrase Clausewitz]. At that point it becomes improvise, adapt, overcome or die. Whatever you put in your go kit be sure not to leave out the most important tool — the five inches between your ears.

    I guess Magoo and MikeB are SOL.

    • No, I’m fine. I’m prepared for most any foreseeable SHTF. I just don’t fantasize about it the way some people do.

      Actually, if you’re an outdoors person it’s not that big a deal. I can live in total wilderness conditions for weeks at a time, if not indefinitely. Or as some of us call it, “vacationing.”

      It would be nice to have all the stuff people have listed here, less nice to carry it on your back everywhere. I am curious to know where people are bugging out to where absolutely nothing can be purchased, obtained, or scavenged if necessary. Reminds me of people who take their steam irons on vacation. What, in the robot apocalypse there won’t be string? I also think that gun loons tend to vastly overestimate their firearms requirements. A .22LR carbine and a brick of ammo and I’m good to go.

  17. I have two BOBs, one for me, one for another person, and each has several cut-down MREs (with all of the extra useless crap removed), a 2 liter camelbak, a 2 quart canteen and pouch, a big flashlight, a little flashlight, batteries, TP, a poncho liner, a plastic cape-shelter, a boonie hat, a roll of duct tape, 30 ft. of para cord, 20 ft. of medium-wieght nylon rope, a first aid kit, a navigation kit (maps, compasses), and a signaling kit(flare gun, signal mirror, and fluorescent tape), A vietnam-style air force survival knife, and a Case V-44. As for guns and other fun stuff, one has a marlin .22 survival rifle with 150 rounds, the other a .357 revolver with 50 rounds. The bags are always close to my gunsafe, so I can grab my SHTF guns, an Armalite AR-15 carbine with a vertical grip and an EOtech sight, a bandolier of six thirty-round Pmags, A Remington 870 marine magnum with an eight round magazine, a fifty round bandolier of various 12 gauge rounds, including birdshot, 00 buck, a handful of slugs, and a handful of 3 1/2″ magnums. As for pistols, I have a Taurus Tracker SS in .44 mag, a Springfield Armory Loaded parkerized, and a .380 beretta 85 as a hideout gun.

    • Just to be clear, the BOBs are for natural disasters, getting stuck in the woods, etc, but the SHTF stuff is for riots, meltdown of society, Black Helicopters, that sort of thing.

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