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Survivalist 101
Survival Begins Here
Survival Begins Here


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Learn the Secrets that Food Storage Companies don't Want You to Know About
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Bug Out Bags

Having a bug out bag packing list showing what items you have is essential, but how you pack your bug out bag is nearly as important as what you put in it, at least when it comes to convenience and efficiency. You can’t just stop mid-flight to dig your meal bars out of the bottom of your bag because you packed poorly, but that’s a typical beginner mistake.

Don’t worry - we’re here for you. By the end of this article you’re going to have a bit of insight about  how to go about choosing and packing your bug out bag. It’s just a matter of considering what you’re going to use the most and packing accordingly. Ready? OK. Let’s get to it.

Picking Your Bug Out Bag

 Before you decide how to pack your bag, first you need to HAVE a bag. Backpacks work best for long-distance carrying. Pick a good one that fits your body well and is easily manageable for you, but that will still hold all of your supplies. Decide if you want an internal frame or external frame pack, keeping in mind that internal frame packs are less likely to catch on branches, etc. However, external frame backpacks allow you to hang tools and gear from the frame, and they can be used alone to carry heavy loads such as firewood.

Look for bags with adjustable straps for the shoulders and waist, taking into account the torso length and weight of the person who will be carrying it. Do the same for your family’s packs. Take them with you when you’re buying your bug out bags so that everybody gets one that fits.

After you've decided what type of bag fits best, start looking at what features the bag has. Look for the following features:

Waterproof-able, sturdy material such as canvas.
Plenty of outside and inside pockets, straps, and clips that are well-attached
A bag with the capability to add a water bladder or with a side pocket to hold a water bottle filter will cut down on your need to carry bottles and the weight will distribute better
Adjustable stabilizer straps on the shoulder straps and at the sternum and hips, minimum. Load lifting straps are even better.
Choosing and packing your bug out bag means that you need to decide how much you’re going to pack according to how much weight you are able to carry, before buying your bag. That criteria will help determine the size of the bag that you pack. Here’s a good rule of thumb for determining how much space you’ll need, and the typical bug out bag is meant to get you through about 3 days:

1 day = 20 liters of space
2 days = 50 liters of space
3 days = 60 liters of space
4 days = 70 liters of space
5 days = 80 liters of space
That is just a general guide to estimate how much space you’ll need for the basics. If you decide to carry more than just the bare necessities or if you live in a spot that requires more gear to survive, you’ll need to allow for more room.

How to Pack Efficiently

Now you need to decide how to pack your bag. Think weight and convenience. You want your bug out bag packed so that the weight is evenly distributed, the items that you need are easily accessible, and the things that may leak aren't packed near items that they may damage if leakage occurs.

First, divide your items into light, medium and heavy piles, taking into consideration items that can leak. Next, be sure to keep out a day’s worth of water and food as well as navigational items that you’ll need so that you can place them in an easily-accessible location. Pack the rest of the bag like so:

Heavy items

Pack heavier items near your hips and close to your spine, arranging them so that they aren't squashing other items. Make sure that the weight is distributed evenly left to right.

Medium-Weight Items

Pack the medium-weight items around the heavier items so that the weight remains at your pelvis and spine so that you can stay balanced.

Light-Weight Items

Pack light-weight items around the outside of the heavier items, being careful to pack so that the weight won’t shift and throw off your balance or damage the lighter items.

*Items that have the potential to leak should be sealed in leak-proof and water proof bags or pouches. Important documents should also be stored in these types of bags to protect them from water and moisture.

Outside Pockets

Use the outside pockets of your pack to store light items or items that you’ll need quick access to. At night when you make camp, restock your pack if you have a chance so that the items that you’ll need throughout the next day are readily available. In other words, restock your reachable food and water.

Re-packing Your Bag

Always repack your bag to redistribute the weight after you have removed or used up items. In addition, always place the items in the same place every time to prevent misplacing critical tools, medicine, etc. A place for everything and everything in its place will always apply to packing your bug out bag.

I hope that this article helped make packing your bug-out bag easier. Use a bug out bag packing list to check off items as you pack them, that way you will be less likely to leave items out. Just use your common sense when you’re putting everything in. Don’t stack the gas for your cook stove over your only change of clothes or your water purification tablets, and keep your little items stored in containers.

It may take several attempts before you find the right balance and best way of packing your items. As a matter of fact, if you need help with that, we actually have an article about it. To get more tips, check out some of our other bug-out bag articles.
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