Items for the big four survival categories (food, water, shelter and fire) must be adequately included within your store-bought bag. Be sure they meet a minimum 72-hour requirement. This is a must. If any are missing or short packed, keep shopping.
A detailed look at the bag can reveal many imperfections that can become big problems under continuous use. A bad zipper or two, weakly stitched seams, thin outer shell material and poorly sewn strap connections can all lead to problems in the field, which can make your situation go from bad to worse. Tough fabric, double-stitched seams and high-quality hardware components are what you want to look for.
Just as you examine the actual backpack, you need to try out its included components. Check equipment for ease of operation, weight and durability under normal and extreme conditions. Try your food for taste and texture whether they are MRE meals, freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. Use your multi-tool around the house, test your radio and compass, and learn how your multi-function shovel and portable stoves work and assemble. If they meet your expectations, you are on the right path.
When you buy online or in a store, read carefully all the items that are included in the bug-out bag. What initially may seem like an incredible number may turn out to be less than you think. The descriptions they provide may list every match or every bandage as an individual item. When it’s all said and done, you may have over 150 items but only about a dozen necessary main groups of products.
This bag will be with you night and day as you travel through all possible types of terrain; it needs to be comfortable. Try it out with the pack fully loaded. Does it instantly feel like a part of you? If not, why not? If you feel any rough points hitting your lower back or shoulder area, you may have to reconfigure the items within. If the pain persists, then the bag itself must be the problem. Continue to try different packs until you find the most comfortable one. Your bag should be a help when bugging out, not a hindrance.
Not all pre-filled bags have everything you would possibly need. You may have some extra food components or a bigger first-aid kit that you want to put in, so you need a bit of extra space. If your bag is already stretched to the max with their included items, it is too small and unacceptable. Find one with about 20 percent of empty space, just enough for you to add your own extras.
If assembling your own bug-out bag doesn’t appeal to you, there are a number of pre-packed bags on the market. Before buying any of these bags, however, there are some tough questions you need to ask before spending your hard-earned money. Here are the keys to look for when shopping for the right pre-assembled bag for you.
This article was originally published in SURVIVOR’S EDGE ™ Winter 2015 magazine. Print and Digital Subscriptions available here.
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