My Go – Bag Thoughts

I have been a hunter, day hiker, fisherman, sometimes backpacker and emergency preparedness type (professionally and personally) over the course of the past 30 years or so. So I have always had a “go bag” backpack/fannypack stashed in my vehicle, if I suddenly have an opportunity for a quick hunt, hike, etc. or to be ready for an emergency.

Yeah I know cell phones are the cure-all and whoever carries one is going to be found quickly.  Sorry I just don’t trust that technology that much. You need a backup plan for when your cell phone isn’t working or is broken.
I have always believed that you need to be ready to spend 48-72 hours in the woods unexpectedly when you are doing outside activities, even in local areas.  If you get turned around or get hurt, it might take that long for someone to find you or for you to find your way out.

Over the past month I have read a lot of the hiking, survivalist, prepper and emergency preparedness blogs and thinking about the stuff they advocate having in their hiking bags or bug out bags.  Anyways it seems that to many in today’s world my “Go” bag’s name has changed to become a “Bug Out Bag”.

After going through several different lists on the Internet that recommend what you should have in your day hike or bug out bag. I thought that it might be a good time to go through my “Go” bag to see how it compared to the lists, since I haven’t really gone through my bag in a couple of years.  When you can’t walk all that much because of a bad knee you don’t worry so much about having a day hiking bag.

For the most part I feel pretty comfortable with what I have for up to 72 hours, but a couple of things that just slapped me upside the head and need to do are:

  • Add a more food to what am carrying 3 food bars and an instant meal are not enough for up to 72 hours.  That amount would be fine for a quick afternoon or unexpected overnight, but nothing longer.
  • Have water already added to the bladder and water bottles, now I only have one bottle already setup.  I also want to get a better water purification system than I have now.
  • I need to put a survival book in the bag, always used to have one, I don’t know where it went?
  • Of all the things that I forgot to put in the kit was fishing supplies – just one of those things if you don’t look at your bag once in a while you forget about.
  • Where it is almost fall (I can’t believe today is August 1st), think about putting my solo tent in the pack (it fits two if you don’t mind be close to each other), that way I have it already in place.

I had a choice of three carrying systems:

  • Most of my day hikes and time in the woods can be taken care of with my belt pack (Yes I carry it even when hunting or walking local trails).  I have enough stuff in there to make it through a night or two in the woods, if I had to (May-October), it just would not be as comfortable. I am familiar with what is in it and where things are.
  • I decided against the smaller pack (red/gray pack), it is an adventure racing pack and pretty light weight (I won’t be doing any adventure racing anytime soon) – I could change a lot of things around, to make it work no problem, but decided against it.  It is fine for a day hike bag or a supported multi-day trek bag. But not as a 72 hour bag.
  • I decided to go with a slightly larger capacity bag that has spent several hours on my back over the past 11 years – no it is not a brand name, but I keep coming back to using it – it just fits me.  My Black Diamond-Alpine bag has stood up to be overloaded, carried on airplanes, thrown in the back of my pickup/wagon, walked on, dropped, used as a seat/pillow, rained on, dunked in streams, been a cushion when I fall in the mud.  Surprisingly it still looks pretty good and I haven’t had any problems with the zippers (usually a weak point).
This is basically a weekender backpack, that I can comfortably carry around 30 pounds (more if I really had to).

It also has places for straps for sleeping bag, pad and other items that can be lashed to the outside of the pack (I have tried a sleeping back strapped to the bottom and while it works, it bounces against my ass too much for my liking, so while I can use hang sleeping bags from the bottom of this pack, I prefer not if possible (I have a light mummy bag and a small compression bag, I think I will see how small I can make the sleeping bag and maybe go in that direction).  Plus if I need to carry snowshoes or skis and poles with this bag, it does it no problem.

This was actually a really good thing to have done.  Going through and inventorying my “go bag” showed me what I need to fix, got rid of a bunch of crap, my current readiness for an emergency or for possibly (eventuality) of having to stay in the woods for a couple of days as a result of an accident or getting lost.

My “go bag” to me is more an opportunity day hike bag.  I have it ready for those times when you have the chance to go on a hike or walk, someplace unexpectedly and don’t want to make the mistake of going into the woods without your gear.  I hate it when I am 3-4 miles back in the woods and see people out there in sneakers, shorts and tshirts because they decided at the last minute to go for a hike.  What happens if something goes bad and you need to spend a day or two in the woods – it is very uncomfortable and could be downright dangerous.

I prefer to have my “go bag” ready for hiking and use it as often as possible.  That way if SHTF, I know what is actually in there and how to use what I have with me, instead of it sitting someplace (in the back of the car/truck, garage, shed or basement) waiting for something to happen and then not know what I actually have or how to use what is in there, if things do get bad.

I wonder how many of those “bug out” bags will actually get used – personally I hope not too many.  It is great to be ready for an emergency, but unless you are actually using your equipment to know what works, how it works and what is just added weight, that will slow you down or get in your way.

It seems to me that many of those who are preparing bug out bags, if they are not actually practicing with the equipment they have, won’t really be all that ready if SHTF. So I guess my advice to many “bug out bag” owners is:  Use what you think you need, when you really don’t need it and then when you need it you will know how to use it.
Until then my “go bag” is now a lot more ready for its next adventure off the beaten track, hopefully within the week, over in New Hampshire. 😉

By the way when was the last time you used your “go bag” or bug out bag or whatever you call it?
When was the last time you looked inside of it?

if it has been more than 3 months you need to look inside it to make sure that everything is still there, works and is what you need now.

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