Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Getting Prepared for Beginners #5 The Backpack

Some people call it a Bug Out Bag (BOB), some call it a Get Home Bag. I just call it my backpack. Everyone has a different idea of what should be in this pack. I am going to cover what I have in my pack and a few pre made packs. I will discuss the benefits if both and why I think mine is best for me.

First, I must tell you what my backpack is not. It is not a 72 hour kit. As I said in the last post if I had to walk completely from work it would take me 10 hours. So my backpack is basically a 36 hour kit at most. With enough tools that can be used to last longer if needed.

What I Have in My Backpack

I keep a change of clothes, Two 20 oz bottles of water, snacks, a headlamp, matches, a lighter, a few tools, and some basic first aide supplies. I will go over everything I have in my backpack and everything I want to add. I will provide links for everything I can.

A change of clothes.

In the summer I keep 2 pairs of socks, a pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, and a t-shirt. In the winter I keep jeans, insulated socks, thermal shirt, flannel shirt and thermal pants. There is a short transitional period where I am changing over from season to season. You will have to determine what mix of clothing is best for your pack. Cost to you other than the backpack: $0.00.

Reason for the change of clothes is simple. Sometimes you just need them. These are not just for emergencies. I have had my pants rip before. Instead of having to go home from work or go buy something at the store, all I have to do is grab my backpack.


The snacks that I have in my pack are always changing. Why? Because I eat them. I am not opposed to someone buying a MRE or two just to keep in their pack. I am also not saying that I might not do the same at some point, but right now it is not a priority.

Normal snacks that show up in my pack include, spam and crackers, granola bars, crackers and peanut butter, fruit cocktail, and snack cakes. Again my snacks are always changing because I eat them. This helps make sure everything is fresh. Consider it rotating stock.

FYI most good quality multitools have a can opener on them so don't shy away from canned goods for your pack.


There are a few tools that I consistently keep with or in my pack. I will go over each and why it is included.
I use a multitool everyday. I am not kidding- everyday. I have used my tool when working with my beehives. I use my tool on the job almost daily. I used it today in fact. I have used it around the house to do minor repairs. If I am out and about, I have a multitool with me. Some of the more expensive tools are really nice, but if you are wanting to balance price with quality, the one above is very affordable and really good quality. If you are just going to keep it in your pack it is a great deal.

A folding pruning saw

If I need to start a fire or if a small tree falls across the road on my way home, I am ready. I have tried a couple of the pocket chainsaws and I just did not like the two that I tried. I am sure that there are some out there that are really good. I just haven't run across those yet.

Magnesium Fire Starter
Magnesium Fire Starter
Now I will be honest, I carry matches, a lighter, and a magnesium fire starter. The fire startertakes a little practice, but with that practice it is a consistent fire starter even when matches fail. The reason is you make a small pile of magnesium shavings, which when ignited burn very hot. I just like having it with me. 

Fixed Blade Knife
This is the one place where I would encourage you to spend a little extra money. A fixed blade knife is not the place where you want to go cheap. Believe me, I have tried the cheap knives and there is a reason they are so cheap. However, I still do not suggest people spend a ton of money. Again balance is the key here. Get as high a quality as you can for the price. 

There are thousands of uses for a fixed blade knife and in my opinion they are one of the most important tools you can own.

Compact Fishing Kit
These are fairly easy to build on your own. An Altoids can works great for this purpose. I may cover making one in the near future. If you would like me to cover this let me know.

At least 25 foot. I would not go over 100 foot and I would not go a very large diameter. Hundreds of uses including but not limited to building a shelter, securing food supplies where critters cannot get to them, and just tying things up.

Head Lamp

Boosting off a car, changing a flat, or really anything else at night. Use mine on a weekly basis.

Emergency Blanket
Emergency Blanket
Again, bunches of uses. Keeping you warm. Emergency shelter. Catching water. Using it as a carry bag. The picture above is a link to The Ready Store where you can buy 1 for $1.49, but you can pick up a  Emergency Mylar Blankets - 84" x 52" (4 Pack) for $5.19.

Basic First Aide

Once again I built my own first aid kit. My kit contains allergy pills, aspirin, ibuprofen, alcohol prep pads, hydrocortisone cream, basic bandages and vet wrap. I am going to cover the uses for vet wrap because I think the others are fairly self- explanatory. Vet wrap can be used as gauze bandage or even as just a wrap. About 6 months ago someone sprained their wrist at work. It wasn't bad, but their wrist needed a little extra support. I went to my backpack and pulled out the vet wrap. It is self-adhesive so it works easily as an ace bandage. You can look at several premade first aid kits HERE.


Like I said I keep two 20 oz bottles of water with my pack. DIY of course. I use two soda bottles that I rinsed out well and filled with water. The reason I do not use the stainless steel bottles is they tend to get canteen funk. If you have ever been in the service or if you hike a lot you know what I mean. It is a bad taste. Using the plastic bottles, drinking the contents and refilling it never develops that bad flavor.

A word of caution for the ladies. There have been studies that link drinking water from plastic containers that have gotten hot with some types of cancer.

I have covered most of the basics. If you will do this you will have a better chance of getting home if you have to "hoof it". You can customize your pack to yourself. If you live 60 miles from where you work you will want a full 72 hour kit. If you only live 10 miles from where you work you may not need as much in your pack as I have in mine.

As promised here is a link to several backpacks that you can build on yourself and here is a link to several premade survival kits.

I hope you never have to use any of the things we cover here, but I would rather you have them and not need them than need them and not have them. I wish you all 

Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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Other posts in this series:
More Posts in this series:
#17 A Case for Long-Term Preparedness

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