Monday, January 18, 2010

6th Annual Winter BoB Exercise

For the sixth year in a row, some hearty souls determined to test themselves against nature with just their Bug out Bags (BoBs) to sustain them. Because they were hearty souls, they did it in winter.

We came up with this idea as a way to shake out the bugs, get rid of the winter blahs and really see if our BoBs were adequate. It is actually The National Winter BoB Exercise and everyone is encouraged to participate – with me or on your own. Just grab your BoB and live out of it for a couple days in January. As usual, we had old timers and newcomers. Some regulars did not make it this year and they were sorely missed.

Originally 20 men and women indicated they were attending but I think the weather (sub zero temps) two weeks ago scared a lot off. As it was, we had temps ranging from the mid 20s to the low 50s. It rained a bit at night – just enough to make us appreciate our shelters. All in all we had seven souls from four states attend this year.

As usual, we had a wonderful time meeting new people and getting back together with old friends. We linked up at a local eatery for a last meal on Thursday afternoon and then moved to the training area – a hilly landscape covered with rocks and trees. We simulated having to abandon our vehicles Enroute to our bug out location and then having to continue on foot.

After everyone rucked up we moved out about ¾ of a mile cross country. It was enough for folks to get a feel for how their BoB felt while doing something other than standing in the living room. One “newbie” to the whole idea had a small BoB – and had everything he needed. And had absolutely no problem carrying it. And probably could serve as an example to us all.

Everyone used some version of tarp for shelter – they are much lighter and smaller than tents and actually work better when used in conjunction with a reflected fire. One guy made a last minute switch of his poncho for a piece of heavy duty plastic. There is a lesson to be learned here: “if you haven’t tested it – it doesn’t work” (my buddy thought that phrase up). When he unrolled the plastic for the first time out there he discovered it was long enough – but only about two feet wide! DOH! Luckily we had an extra poncho in the group. The Mil-Spec ponchos are small – smaller than US military ponchos – buyer beware. I used my Swack-Shack and loved it. I made one shelter that I could stand up in.

After selecting shelter sites and getting sorted out we gathered around a fire and told stories and solved the world’s problems until late in the night. The next morning after breakfast (I eat instant oatmeal and make it by pouring boiling water into the actual pouch – saves muss and fuss) we packed up and moved about ¾ of a mile to another site where we remained for the next two night.

We had classes on moving in a safe and secure manner as a group and we did a bit of shooting. We hiked around and purified water at a stream with a variety of filters (I like the PUR like I bought my daughter better than my old school original and HEAVY Katadyn). We compared gear and discussed various options for doing various things (you really had to be there…) and solved more of the world’s problems.
Everyone had small personal fires and we gathered at a large group campfire at night – privacy and camaraderie all in one.

Some lessons learned and relearned:

• Most people pack BoBs that are too heavy for real cross country foot movement
• Most people overestimate how far they can go on foot
• Most of us need to get in better shape
• You can get by with a very small (day pack sized) BoB
• Water is heavy but you either carry it or make a lot of trips for more
• No one ran out of food – most had a lot left over
• Getting out and DOing is the only way to really test yourself and your gear
• Don’t be afraid of the weather – be prepared for it
• People are cool – Preparedness people are really cool
• You can heat water in metal canteens
• Goretex is nice
• A large tarp is very nice
• Backpacking stoves are fast, quiet, and low signature (smell, sight)
• Time spent around a campfire with friends adds to one’s life

And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing. – Isaiah 10:27

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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America


At 19/1/10 05:15, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone fastens where there is gain.........................................

At 19/1/10 08:02, Blogger Perkunas said...

Looks like a good time youve had there man.

Is there any more info about contents about that daypack sized BOB?
As i liek to think that bug/bail out bag is supposed to be somethin g you have always ready to be just picked up & off u go,i thinkit has to be somewhat of compact so you can stuff it in your truck,ride a bicycle with it etc.Anyway,i wish someday Finnish survival scene would be something bigger,not tiny underground movement as its now,and we could do trips like youve done,in future as just looking your pics makes me envy that sort of action.

And most of all,youre right about that testing and trying your gear in real life is major thing.Its useless just to collect all sorts of stuff in your house and speculate about how it works.Just lift that butt and pack up & go,its the only way to find out how man and his gear make it.

At 19/1/10 08:52, Blogger Joe said...

The guy with the small BoB may post its contents on the forums later.

Hey - we started the Annual Winter BoB exercise with THREE people. Invite a friend or two and start your own version (and then post about it on the forums!)

At 19/1/10 09:26, Blogger Perkunas said...

Ive done few like that and im going to do one during march,and i will tell about in on my blog,but its sad that theres always just me and just two to three guys with me,which i wonder since i hike a lot with many many friends all around year,but if they hear word survivl or bushcraft,or their finninf equivalents,they almost run away :).To me there aint better way to spend time than hanging out in the woods,sleeping in lean-tos,whittling and training skills though.

At 19/1/10 09:52, Blogger Joe said...

Hey Perkunas - I'd be happy to correspond with you directly. Just drop me a line at

At 10/2/10 19:20, Blogger Will said...

I just repacked my BoB today – it’s heavy (~50 lbs) but I need to add more. But it’s not just for me; it’s also for my wife and toddler son. I’m putting together a smaller one for my wife (she’s ~100 lbs), which will help. Right now the bag has 2L of water and several hundred 9mm and .22 rounds – I’ll need to reduce those items. For food, I’m only packing high calorie foods I know my son will eat – peanut butter and corned beef. I figure I don’t want to take more than 60 lbs, and my CFP-90 pack can take up to 90+ lbs (I’m ~180 lbs). Also have a fairly good medical kit with Celox, etc. This BoB really is planned for the last resort, survival essential stuff. I’ll keep an eye for the contents of the light BoB.


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