Thursday, November 01, 2007

BoB Theory

Many beginning survivalists start out by assembling a BoB (bug out bag) with which they plan on surviving any potential catastrophe. The initial thought (assembling the BoB) is a decent one. Unfortunately, there is little thought given beyond gathering and storing equipment. Many neophytes think they can assemble a magic bag of tricks with which they can then wander off into the “wilderness” and survive indefinitely – never mind the fact that these good souls don’t even backpack recreationally, let alone practice surviving with minimal equipment for indefinite periods of time.

So I guess it’s time to talk “BoB theory”. First one must recognize the need for a BoB. Not difficult if one has half a brain. The Red Cross, FEMA, and Department of Homeland Security all suggest you assemble a “72-hour kit” in an easy to carry configuration. Even those who live on their own little slice of Heaven (fully operational survival retreat) need BoBs. Something could happen that forces them to depart. Rapidly. In the middle of the night. While it is sleeting. This might be a good time to scroll down and read “Bugging Out” posted last April and “BoB Campout” posted last January.

Once one recognizes the need for a BoB, one has to do some deeper thinking and decide how they envision using this man-portable rescue module. Let me squash one idea everyone initially has – you cannot grab a rucksack full of goodies, move out to the wilderness, and live indefinitely like some erstwhile Robinson Crusoe or 21st century mountain man . Well okay – the vast majority of you cannot. I could, and some of the people I run with could. Maybe. But none of us would want to live that existence. There is absolutely no margin for error when living that way. Robinson Crusoe was a fictional character and the mountain men usually holed up in Indian villages for the winter. Villages with lots of other people and stuff. The good news is that you are smart, you can plan and you can prepare.

The Plan
So, you need a plan. Where are you going with your BoB? Figure that out. Have a few places in mind. Identify multiple routes to get to each location. They should each have everything you need for long term survival. It could be the ranch of your good buddy, Nate, who has been preparing for years (and with whom you have a reciprocal arrangement). It could be a vacation cabin which you have taken the time and gone through the trouble to stock. It cannot however, be a patch of wilderness “teeming with wildlife and forest products.” That is fantasy.

Once you determine where you are going and how you plan to get there you should be able to figure out how long it will take to travel those routes. Now you can start figuring out how much food you need in your BoB. You can determine water sources along the way and decide how much water you need to carry. Terrain dictates clothing and shelter. And so on.

Let’s talk just a bit more about The Plan. The BoB is designed to get one from Point A to Point B (or alternatively, Point C or Point D). It is designed primarily for that but also takes into account Murphy. So I may plan on getting to a specific location but end up spending a lot more time on the trail than anticipated. Such is life. I am prepared for that eventuality. You should be also.

Speaking of clothing... I keep a complete set of clothing secured to my BoB. Pants, shirt, underwear, socks, boots, coat, etc. It is stored in a cloth bag clipped to my BoB. If I jump out of the shower and have to flee I won’t be naked for long. Alternatively, if I start out dressed, I can dump that bag of unnecessary clothing immediately. I used to keep BDUs in my BoB. So did my wife and kids. It was de rigueur in Survivalist circles to wear cammo. I reckon it still is. I no longer use BDUs for my BoB clothing though – I now use “cammo-cammo” which is to say I have packed earth-toned “civilian” clothing. I can still hide unseen in the woods, but I can also walk down the street without being noticed.

I live in a four season zone. About this time of year, I add my winter module to my BoB. I add a heavier coat and set of poly pro long johns to the clothing bag and change out the boots from jungle boots to insulated Gore-Tex ones. Inside/on the BoB I add a heavy sweater, backpacker stove and fuel bottle and a good sleeping bag. I also have a tent standing by that I’ll consider carrying depending on how far we are going.

Medical Supplies
Since the BoB is designed for mobility, my first aid supplies follow suit. I don’t have many things to treat “owies” like Band-Aids and the like. I go heavy on pain killers (OTC), ACE bandages, and tape. I consider caffeine to be a medicine in this regard also – it helps me to press on. If amphetamines were legal for me to possess, I would have them in my BoB as well.

I recommend for “unencumbered” people (physically fit, without small children, healthy, etc) that they keep mostly Go Food in their BoBs. Things that endurance athletes use like Power Bars, Gu, Gatorade and so on. Peanut butter fits in this category as well. You can worry about vitamins and a balanced diet when you get to your final destination. For those who will be unable to walk every waking hour – there will be time to eat more substantial food. When our children were small, my wife and I carried things like rice, powdered potatoes and ramen. We knew we would be taking many rest stops with the kids in tow and would have time to prepare real food. We also carried food that could be eaten without heating water if the tactical situation demanded it.

Which brings us to tactical situations. The best case is for you to be able to proceed from Point A to Point B unhindered and unnoticed. Select your routes accordingly. But stuff happens. Be prepared to blend with the other refugees (that’s what you are while you are journeying from Point A to wherever). Be prepared to hide from bad guys. This may mean camping cold – no fire, no stove, no shelter unless absolutely necessary to preserve life. Give careful consideration to how you will be armed. You will be armed. You probably want to be discreet. But maybe not. At least think it through now while you are warm, dry and well-fed.

I will tell you this: do not plan on expending 300 rounds of ammo enroute to your destination. Odds are good that if you shoot that much you will in turn get shot. Or your partner will. Or your kid. Is it time to go back and re-evaluate your route selection? Maybe.

Which brings us to this: Bugging out should be an option of last resort – but it should be an option. The best situation is to be firmly ensconced in a well-prepared Survival Retreat when TSHTF. You should spend a lot of time and effort towards getting there now. Get a job that allows you live there, work on the place, etc. etc. But even then, you need a plan to leave that wonderful place at a moment’s notice. No fun. I know.

Bugging out to a pre-determined prepared location is the only option currently available to many folks. I would just exhort you make sure the place to which you plan on evacuating is as prepared as possible to sustain you and yours long term. Work on that.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America


At 6/11/07 19:44, Blogger G said...

If you refer to the Presidential Disaster Declarations Map

Note that the most common disaster is flooding, severe storms and tornadoes.

Aside from having a boat, what gear/aspects of a /in a BoB would be prudent in these situations?

Also, not the current mega disaster occurring in Mexico would also fit with how a BoB could help with such a disaster.

At 28/1/08 11:16, Blogger theotherryan said...

Great post. Living out of a rucksack has the big weaknesses that your stored supplies are greatly limited and you will encounter more potentially hostile people then staying put. Having a backup plan is wise no matter what sort of wonderful retreat you have got set up.


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