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Two of our intrepid reporters were given $200 each to construct the perfect “Bail Out Bag,” a kit you could keep in your car that would keep you alive for 24 hours, and meet in Texas for a series of challenges…

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  1. @Nick, the key with MREs is to gut them. Get rid of the bulky main pouch and whatever you’re not going to eat. With each item individually sealed you still don’t have to worry about expiration. On Army exercises we would be issued several, gut them, trade what we could with other soldiers (beef patty for a bag of skittles, etc), then consolidate what I was carrying in a gallon ziplock bag. Also, bring along a bag of gummy bears, which are probably the greatest morale booster ever.

    • Good idea Loyd.
      One issue I see is always space. You need something small and light as not everyone can carry a full size standard issue pack for a long distance.

      Being light and mobile, and assume you probably will need to navigate a river or unfriendly terrain is a good plan. If you have kids this compounds the issue as you will need to not be so bogged down that you can’t give them a hand as well while maintaining a decent speed etc.

    • While gutting an MRE does make it a bit more portable,
      the main bag can be useful in and of itself as a water carrier,
      for water proofing, or other chores.

      As the intention here is for it to wait in a kit for use,
      not ride in cargo pockets,
      I wouldn’t field strip it right off the bat.

      I might once the bag had to be used, though,
      especially if I was wearing pants with cargo pockets.

  2. Gotta watch this video clip from the classic Kubrick film “Dr. Strangelove”. Slim Pickens is going thru the survival kit on the B52 headed towards those Roosian bastards…with two twenty megaton nukclear bombs….

  3. Great video, but you guys didn’t seem to taxed. How about a 48hr or 72hr challenge with $200, and open it up to some of us TX readers? Head out to Bandera or Bracketville, surviving a weekend in John Wayne’s Alamo, that’s a challenge.

  4. “…and meet in Texas for a series of challenges…” Did anyone else read this in one of the 3 top gear UK presenter’s voices? Or was it just me?

  5. In my bug-out bag along with my guns and ammo, I’d have a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of bourbon, a can of Skaol and $180 in silver.


    • Mercury dimes or another mix of junk silver are good to have.
      PS Don’t forget the hand cleaner for use after using the toilet paper.

  6. If in Texas add a extra large box of condoms in case you end up at the truck stop/ strip club on I35 south of Dallas or in Laredo looking for a cab ride to Boys Town in Mexico!!!! LOL!!!
    Get something you will keep longer than cheap luggage!!!

  7. Could the $200 for 24 hours be used to buy a book, and then check into a motel next to a BBQ restaurant and a gun range?

  8. “bad guys everywhere and zombies all over the place” = .22LR the best option?

    Perhaps someone can shed some light on this for me, b/c I’m at complete disagreement with anyone who says the .22LR is the best, or even a great option for a BOB/SHTFB. Other than hunting some very-small game, the .22LR is a waste of resources. I don’t know about many of you, but I’ve hunted small game for MANY years with a .22LR bolt-action Winchester. It requires 1) lots of walking 2) lots of luck 3) plenty of water 4) light 5) OK weather conditions. You could defend yourself with a .22LR, esp a 10/22 with 30+ round mags. Then again, you could defend yourself with high-performance sling-shot (and hunt with one too). Nick’s 300BLK makes MUCH more sense, esp in Texas where high-temps and mostly nocturnal animals make night hunts more efficient and more successful.

    In a 72+hour situation, a .22LR (esp a silenced one) can be beneficial and can help actually save resources (larger/bulkier/over-powerful ammo) if food gathering and/or hunting becomes necessary. However, a 10/22 rifle adds unnecessary bulk when a simply S&W 10-shot revolver would work just as well at small game distances (less than 50 yards, and mostly less than 25 yards). In a 24-hr Bag, and more so in BOB, a 9mm pistol with 4-5 extra (full) magazines adds little bulk, is easy to transport, doesn’t require a sling, has more kinetic energy than a .22LR at 25 yards, and is more than adequate for “zombies”. I would argue that even a Mossberg 500 would make a better BOB/24-hr Bag option. A 18.5″ or 20″ barrel is more than adequate for 75-yard shots on large deer/people, and can also be used with birdshot or buckshot for small-game and camp/car defense.

    • I’ve always thought that a 12 gauge with some birdshot, buckshot and slugs could be a great all-around survival tool, but the combination would be a bitch to lug around.

      • More so than a 10/22 with 25+ round mags (that apparently don’t like to get fully seated) and 550 rounds loosely packaged in a thin-cardboard box? It may be heavier but once you get to your camp/location, you won’t have to lug all your supplies with you. Another nice thing about a shotty is that you can reload on the fly and top off with whatever round is required. With the 10/22, you’d have to dump the mag and hope you had another one ready to go. AR’s can at least be topped off one at a time, assuming you didn’t accidentaly dump the empty mag.

        • More so than a 10/22 with 25+ round mags

          Nuh-uh. I would not choose 25 round mags for .22LRs. They jam worse than a tone-deaf Dixieland band.

          If I chose a .22 rifle, it would be a Ruger 10/22 with standard 10-round rotary mags. But I wouldn’t choose a .22 rifle in the first place. Not enough firepower.

          I like the idea of a shotty with a mix of shells. I’m sure that I’d get a double hernia lugging the whole megillah around, but maybe that’s the price of survival.

    • in wva the 22 lr was the preferred weapon of poachers. quite enough that it didn’t draw much attention and certainly good enough for deer. remember, in a survival sittuation game laws and sportsmanship goes out the window. when you get hungry enough anything that crawls, including bugs, walks, flys or swims is a meal. and remember the math, you burn more calories lugging your gear around than you take in and you loose. keep ypur gear as light as possible and as simple as possible. if the 22 lr doesn’t impress move up to the 22 mag. don’t rely on a handgun, shot placement when you’re hungry and exhausted may cost you a meal using a handgun.

      • The .22lr has probably killed more deer than either the 12ga or 30-30. No one is going to talk about it, but there have always been more deer poached than tagged. As a defensive weapon against human predators it is under powered, then again, with limited or no access to rapid transport and or a trauma facility it’s a silly person indeed who risks being shot with anything at all. As for hunting, everything from rabbit to squirrel, possum and cat fall well to heart-lung shots with .22s, and deer don’t take well at all to head shots from them. If it’s truly a survival bag for bug out use where weight is everything, the .22lr is more than adequate.

    • Let’s not forget, they also had a handgun with I assume a larger round. Since that was an option for this scenario, the .22 rifle gives them more options. Perhaps a .22 pistol and larger caliber rifle would be better still.

  9. Good job with the hammocks. A poncho liner would be an excellent addition, as it’s compact, lightweight, warm, camouflaged, water resistant, and a whole lot of other good things. An old metal mess tin would be wise for anything over 24 hrs, as it can be used to cook stuff in a pinch.
    Get a set of long sleeved shirts and pants, Nick. They might be hot, but they’re better than being sunburnt and covered with chiggers and ticks. Besides, you can just roll the sleeves and legs up if it gets too very hot.

    Nick, next time you’re around the hill country (Fredericksburg, Llano, San Saba) drop me a line, I can teach you a lot about this sort of thing.

  10. I think it’s important to carry a few liters of drinking water for the first 1-2 days, as well as a purification method for longer-term survival. In many areas this will be done by boiling over a wood fire (IF you have a metal can to boil in) but I also pack a small $10 filter straw. Bleach kills microbes and bacteria very nicely (with 8 drops per gallon of settled and skimmed lake/river water, shake and wait 30 minutes before drinking) but it’s a pain to ruck with because it seems to leak and ruin other gear.

    • When I was into hiking and camping, I always carried a reverse osmosis filter and a little 1 oz. vial of bleach. I never got sick from drinking the water, which was pretty good when you consider what the cattle and sheep were doing upstream. To me, it might have been a beautiful, clear lake or river. To the livestock, it was the hopper.

      • Another purification method (albeit longer than 24 hours) is UV sterilization. If you have a semi fine cloth to use as a filter, and a clear container (plastic bag/bottle glass jar) you can filter out large particles with the cloth, let it sit in the sun for 48 hours* (this kills any microbes) and you have safe drinking water. Unless there is a chemical contaminant, you are golden.

        *48 hours is the total time, not the exposure time.

        • UV sterilization in plastic bags/bottles is mostly a myth… This is because short-wave UV light (between 100 to 300 nm) is the UV light used for disinfection. Unfortunately, most plastics and glass block UV light in this range. Long-wave UV light, like say those frequencies common in “black lights” can easily pass through plastic/glass. Even if you had non-UV blocking plastic, any turbidity will limit effectiveness of this method. Overall, this is a VERY last resort method for disinfection!

  11. As a former backpacking guide and having spent entire summers living in the wilderness i have a few key items that i never go anywhere without especially in an extended bug out situation:

    -box of floss with a few large needles (handier than you’d ever think)
    -Leatherman (‘nough said)
    -water purification tablets (lighter and smaller than my filter)

  12. Well done. I think the 5.56 AR would be ideal – ammo everywhere, spare parts, lightweight, decent firepower.

    That being said, I’m not that into the $200 limit: it would exclude my personal bug out items like my 5 oz Learherman skeletool, CRKT semi custom carbon fiber framed knife, etc. A coyote tan AR-15 drag bag with a good wide strap or to seems like an ideal SHTF bag to me. A 9mm or .40 pistol as a backup and your ready for all sorts of danger.

    I’d like to see a 48 or 72 hour challenge with TTAG readers and more shooting. Heck, I would enjoy meeting and competing with y’all, although it seems to me that Tyler is definitely the better shooter, so who knows who the TTAG champ would be?

  13. If someone can’t “survive” for 24 hours with what they’ve got in their pockets, they deserve everything they’ve got comin’ to ’em, good and hard. The gene pool will be all the better for their absence. 24 hours, seriously? How pathetic is that that someone would need $200 worth of kit to get by for a single day? I suppose that the edgy, hipster, metrosexual, beta males amongst us would find that a challenge. God save the Republic.

    • True, but 24 hours was enough to illustrate the pros and cons of various choices. It was more of an object lesson than a test of survival.

  14. The only dying breed is apparently HAM operators who understand RF propagation. That little radio will have a range of maybe a couple miles, but you cant expect even that if you are sitting on the ground. Seriously, at least stand up if you dont climb a tree or find a hill to call from. …and what about the other radio that apparently worked just fine: your cell phone?

  15. Great job guys for a first run. Next time I’d like to see you bug out in the middle of San Antonio, which is a bit more likely scenario for most readers. Maybe ask permission from an empty business park? It would change the emphasis from firepower to stealth for sure. Those hammocks alone would probably get you harrassed by locals or police.


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