A reliable flashlight is essential for your bug-out bag. There are manually powered lights that must be shaken to charge the batteries. Though a solar-powered flashlight might seem like the punchline to an old joke, new solar lights charge their batteries with ambient light, so they’re available when you need them. Batteries are heavy and there’s no way you can carry enough of them. Every store selling batteries will eventually run out, leaving you to scavenge more or wander helplessly in the dark. Always pack at least one flashlight that doesn’t need batteries to power it. Other options include “dynamo” lights that are fed power by the rapid turning of a hand crank or a bicycle pedal.</br> Why would you forget a solar or dynamo light? Because we love our high-tech flashlights, that’s why. It’s very tempting to throw the latest portable-sun tactical light in your bag with a waterproof container of extra batteries and consider yourself well covered for nighttime navigating. That’s fine until you burn through your supply of power cells. Any device powered by batteries is a point of vulnerability, especially as a short-term emergency becomes a longer crisis.
For physically bugging out, a compact prybar is crucial. In urban or rural areas, you may encounter obstacles on your route. A locked fence blocking your bug-out truck is possible, as is a locked door that separates you from reaching safety ahead of rioters. A small prybar brings brute force to circumvent barriers.</br> Why would you forget this? In this era of sharpened prybar tactical knives, we tend to think our survival blade can do it all, so we pack the knife intending to use it for everything. All prying, however, is an abuse of a knife. Yes, we all do it, and yes, some manufacturers even tout their knives as implements that can withstand prying and batoning, but you can’t be surprised when you break a knife while prying something. It’s just not designed to do that if it is a knife first.
With dry, sturdy pages you can leave messages or, yes, take notes, even in inclement weather. There’s a scene in the old classic novel series by Jerry and Sharon Ahern called The Survivalist, in which a character has no way to leave a note for her husband except on the back of a check. Don’t find yourself looking for a scrap of paper, any scrap of paper, when you need to write something. Carry a waterproof notebook and prevent the problem entirely. </br> Why would you forget this? The need to take notes and pass messages frequently gets overlooked when packing emergency gear. Few of us see a bug-out crisis as the time to take down our memoirs, so we don’t think to include this critical piece of gear.
The ubiquitous Bic lighters are the best disposable butane products on the market. These humble, non-adjustable devices are more durable than any other butane lighter I’ve tried. I’ve had fancy “windproof” survival lighters that lost their butane charges over time or that otherwise failed. But I’ve had Bic lighters remain functional after years in storage, even with a striking wheel partially clogged with rust. Carry whatever other fire-starting materials you like, but always supplement your fire kit with Bic disposable lighters specifically. </br> Why would you forget this? Because with so many great kits for fire starting and tinder, we tend to make lighting a blaze too complicated. Since Bic flames aren’t adjustable, so many preppers opt for different brands, but absolutely nothing beats the Bic for durability.
A powerful head-mounted light is the only way to stay hands-free in the dark. Yes, you can rig up a headband for your flashlight—and you might need to if your headlamp batteries die—but these are never as comfortable or as functional as a purpose-built headlamp. You don’t have to buy something that equips you for a trip to the center of the Earth; small models do just fine.</br> Why would you forget this? It’s because most of us typically carry handheld pocket torches. That’s what we use most often, and that’s what we tend to pack. We don’t often encounter situations in which hands-free in the dark is critical, at least not in our daily lives. When such a scenario rears its head in an emergency, we may be caught trying to strap flashlights to our noggins with bandannas or even cord.
Any fire kit should include this first aid item, especially for those who don’t spend a lot of time outdoors. When it’s time to bug out and build fires for cooking or boiling water, getting burned is very possible. The lidocaine in burn gel instantly soothes screaming burns that would otherwise leave you suffering. Never pack the means to build a fire without lidocaine burn gel or cream. </br> Why would you forget this? Because many first-aid kits simply don’t include it. Also, a lot of us buy medical kits and throw them in our bug-out bags without critically checking the contents. Burn gel frequently is overlooked for this reason. Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions are far more likely for first-aid kit use, but you’ll miss lidocaine burn gel a lot when you do finally need it.
Even if you’ve got all the essentials in your bug-out bag, they aren’t much use if you can’t find them. Always include bags of smaller bags to organize gear modularly. Put your water purification kit in one bag, your fire starting materials in another, and so on. </BR> Why would you forget this? Most people don’t think about unpacking and rearranging a bug-out bag when they first assemble it. They arrange the contents with methodical care, but then the bag tends to sit unused. It isn’t until you’ve rooted for a particular item in your bug-out bag, then scattered its contents, that you appreciate the ease of repacking a modularly organized bag.
No matter what you’ve got in your bug out bag, you’ve missed something. We’re not accusing; it’s just a fact of human nature. Murphy’s law says that the piece of equipment you’re missing will be the one you need, while 20 other pieces of gear go unused. And while smart preppers add gear to their bags or daily carry each time they realize they lack something they need, you won’t catch everything. There will always be items you don’t think of, and while it’s tempting to take an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach to your carry gear, that’s impossible. A bug out bag has to be light enough to carry comfortably over long distances, while your daily carry loadout can’t be so heavy that you clank when you walk. So where does that leave you?
While going through your bug out bag, you must refine and re-refine what you carry to remove all but the absolute essentials. The problem, though, is that during that process of winnowing what you tote, you’ll be tempted to remove things you shouldn’t. You may also dismiss certain critical items out of hand, thus “forgetting” a valuable tool that might save your life, or at least make life much easier.
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Compiled in the gallery above are items most often forgotten. Few of us forget all of them, but we suspect you’ve missed or dismissed at least one.
This article originally appeared in ‘Survivor’s Edge’ Summer 2017. To pick up a copy, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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by Andre M. Dall'au / May 22, 2017