The Bug-out Bag, Foundation of Preparedness?

If you found yourself here on Plan | Prepare, you’re probably familiar with the venerable bug-out bag (BOB).  You may call it a Get Out of Dodge (GOOD) bag or a 72 Hour bag or some other moniker, but a rose by any other name smells … like stale food and mothballs.

The BOB, Foundation of Preparedness

If you’re not familiar with the BOB, it’s a bag, often a backpack, filled with supplies intended to assist its carrier in his or her attempt to survive for a period of approximately 72 hours.  The bug-out and get out of Dodge names come from the intent that the bag support an individual who must leave his or her residence and rely on the bag’s contents until they reach a safe location.  To bug-out is to leave quickly … or get the [bleep] out of Dodge.

Now that you know, for sure, what a BOB is, I want to discuss whether or not the BOB is truly the foundation of preparedness.  In other words, should you put together a BOB before you make any other preparations for emergencies or disasters?

To help answer that question, let’s go back to The Rule of Threes.  What does the Rule of Threes teach us?  It gives us a basis for planning and preparation.  It gives us an order for preparation.  It helps us establish priorities.

If, then, our priorities for preparation are air, shelter, water, food and hope (in that order) and we agree that medical care over-arches all of those priorities, then why not assemble our preparations in an easy-to-carry “container” like a backpack or messenger bag?  Personally, I can’t think of a reason – other than expense – not to do so.

Let’s talk about expense for a moment.  I’ve seen BOB’s that probably cost $5.00 and I’ve seen BOB’s that probably cost closer to $500.00.  In my opinion, you do not need an expensive bag to have a functional bag.  In all likelihood, you could go down to your local Goodwill or Disabled Vets store and find a perfectly serviceable BOB.  Military surplus ALICE packs, like the one pictured, will work just fine and are easy on the budget.  It might not have a high-end manufacturer’s logo on it, but that label isn’t going to help you survive.  It might have a stain on it or have a few frayed edges, but that shouldn’t stop you from using it.  It must be serviceable.  It must be functional.  Ideally, it will be comfortable.  After all, you may end up carrying it quite some distance in a worst-case scenario.  Spending more money on your bag will not necessarily improve its serviceability, functionality or comfort.

Now that we’ve discussed the expense of a BOB, I want to address the BOB’s primary function and why I believe the BOB is the foundation of preparedness.

Why does one need a BOB?

“I might need to bug out,” you say, “so, I need a BOB.”

That logic is a bit circular but let’s take a look at it nonetheless.

Why might you need to bug out?

“Emergencies, disasters … zombies,” you say.

OK.  I’m not buying the zombie reason, but the other two seem plausible.

If you need to bug out, how much time will you have?

“Minutes, maybe hours,” you say.

Possibly quite right.  I agree.

What if it makes more sense to bug in?

“Bug in?” you say.

Uh huh.  What if it’s safer to stay in your home than to leave it and head out on the highway?

Got you thinking?

My point is that a BOB keeps everything in one place.  It has everything you might need to survive for 72 hours.  It’s organized.  You know where it is.  You’re not looking in the cupboards or going to the basement or rifling through stuff in the garage.  A BOB’s primary purpose is to keep everything you need in one place – preferably a place that is easily accessible regardless of the situation.  You might also consider the most likely disaster scenarios as you think about where to store your BOB.

In a disaster or emergency, the last thing you want to have to do is go hunting for your essentials.  The BOB – the Foundation of Preparedness – saves you the trouble.  Everything is assembled in one place … and easily portable, if necessary.

One last question about the Foundation of Preparedness ….  What holds up the foundation?  Footings.  What are the Footings of Preparedness?  Plans.  Without preparedness planning, the BOB is almost useless.

Plan | Prepare

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One comment on “The Bug-out Bag, Foundation of Preparedness?

  1. russellmn says:

    I have what I call a “Get Home Bag” (GHB) that I keep in whatever vehicle I’m driving that day. It has enough essentials to carry me through ’til I can get home to the rest of my supplies. I drive 30 miles to work so, being an old school infantryman, I can likely do that hike in a day plus a little, but my normal GHB has 3 days worth of supplies in it in case I have to detour, hole up for a day or two, or help someone else home as well… similar contents as the BOB or GOOD bags, SLIGHTLY different purpose.

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