Let me state right off the bat: I am not a prepper. I’m an urban dweller who usually has a stash of ramen noodles, rice, tuna, and the like in my home because I’m half Vietnamese and having extra food stores is what we do. Obviously, I carry everyday and also have guns that work at distance. So far that’s been enough for me.
I admire my operator friends who take the time to put together a full “bug-out bag” complete with food, camping gear, and advanced weaponry. I’m pretty sure that if I tried to carry such an arrangement, I’d make it from central Austin to just past the fancy coffee shops on the East Side before collapsing. Being a big sturdy guy with some extra weight on you really helps in those situations as it turns out. Skinny dancers just can’t compete.
However, about five months ago, I actually ended up needing to create a daily survival bag for the African veldt. The part of the Kalahari I went to is a remote region with no medical care, only a small amount of water, and large wild animals running around everywhere.
The people of that region, the San, live in villages and walk the distances in between. There is very little vehicle transport and even if you do have access to a 4WD vehicle, it’s a very slow crawl, so slow that walking is actually often faster. In order to be out in the veldt for even a day, you need to bring with you whatever you might need if you get stuck out there, which happens because vehicles in that part of the world break down a lot due to the condition of the roads.
So, it turns out that all of that makes for a pretty decent “bug out bag” in and of itself. It all began with the bag, of course, which is one of those ubiquitous 5.11 sling bags.
This bag was suggested by a former friend who’s very paranoid and carries one of these daily even though he never leaves his own neighborhood. Still, it seemed like a good place to start because it’s small enough for a woman to carry and also limits the amount that can be carried, which is a good thing.
Here are some of the contents.
The trauma kit is a Dark Angel that has actually been redone to include things like antibiotic ointment, surgical needles, safety pins, steri-strips, iodine and the like. There is the usual Israeli dressing and tourniquet. I took out the original kit and carried it separately since it’s sealed, but honestly it would be unusual to need anything for a sucking chest wound in the veldt. You’re more likely to encounter bites, cuts, breaks, all of which can be extremely dangerous in such a remote environment.
The compass is a Southern Hemisphere Cammenga (I have both hemispheres). I also have a GPS watch but carried this as a backup. Glasses because of dust (I generally wear contacts) and because a backup pair is always a good idea.
A folding knife is essential because it lives in your pocket. I have the regular type of multi tool, but I’ve found that I tend to use the RealAvid gun tool a lot more, and I’m not sure why. Something about the way it’s set up and the options it provides ends up being a lot more useful than my SOG.
The MPro7 has been used many times on things that aren’t guns to get them moving, and there’s a Lansky ceramic knife sharpener that’s not in this photo that goes everywhere a knife goes. I did take a large standard fixed blade bush knife, but honestly, the Benchmade is what did the real work out there. The mirror is a plastic signal mirror, chosen more for its indestructibility than anything else as there is no such thing as ground-to-air anything out there.
There is also a small, un-pictured old school glass magnifying glass in the mix. And pens. You always end up needing a Sharpie when you’re somewhere remote, for some reason. So I took two.
The flashlight is a cheaper, but very durable Surefire with a Thyrm thumb ring added so it can be carabiner’ed to things. Oh, and lots of carabiners because you can’t have enough.
Interestingly, a two-setting Surefire works a lot better for the veldt than the bright single-setting I’ve used in tactical courses. Too much brightness actually isn’t a good thing out there, as it turns out. It can piss off elephants, which you don’t want to happen for obvious reasons. You can’t call pest control in the veldt when a 13,000 pound animal gets upset and starts tearing up the neighborhood.
Other things a woman needs: a cup. Cups are standard. The water bottle was a LifeStraw with spare straws, not pictured here. This mask is an Airinium, which I used constantly because of ambient dust. And yeah, that’s eyeliner and lippie from Sephora. Because we’re talking about what’s essential.
Let’s not forget the passport and currencies from different countries, all well tucked away in the secret pocket. There was a lot more Namibian money, but I spent it all on alcohol in the airport right before I flew home. The neck knife is a Spartan Enyo that I have set up for holster type carry right now, but I’m going to switch it back to neck carry because I like it better.
Things not pictured that also went with me: water purification tablets, packets of Deep Woods Off towelettes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small camping towel, and electronics with a solar-rechargeable power cell.
As you may know, I carry my firearm on-body and so it’s not included in the bag. I have never understood carrying a firearm off body, quite frankly, and so the assumption here is that my weapon is accessible apart from the bag, with extra mags also accessible, though I could carry a box or two of extra rounds in the pack.
So that’s the setup that took me for a month in the veldt. What’s yours?