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Building a Bug Out Bag on a Budget

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Westfalia, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    Putting together a fully equipped Bug Out Bag (BOB) with high quality items can be a project that may cost you thousands of dollars if you want top of the line high quality items. Just buying high quality clothing with base layers, mid layers, shell jacket, pants, cap, gloves, scarf, socks and hiking boots may set you back a significant amount of money. The reason for putting together a relatively cheap Bug Out Bag may be many: You might normally not engage in outdoor activities and have little use of the items in your everyday life or you may want to build an additional bag for another family member or friend. The most important aspect of Bug Out Bag is that the concept as whole provides you with the necessary components that allows you to make it through an evacuation scenario.

    What clothing you need is very dependent on your climate. There is no clothing that is ideal for all situations so you simply have to find clothing that works where you live. Military surplus can be an interesting alternative since the clothing is often designed to have a long life span. Base layers that dry quickly made from synthetic materials or merino wool are the best but if you can afford pack some extra t-shirts so that you can change the layer closest to your body if you get wet from rain or sweat. A shell jacket provides good protection from wind and rain, Gore-Tex is excellent but there are similar cheaper systems that work well for a much lower price. If you don’t have shell clothing make sure to pack a poncho so that you get some protection in case of rain and bad weather.

    The Bag
    The most central part of your Bug Out Bag is the Bag itself. It must be big enough to hold your items, it must be durable enough to withstand a few days hike without breaking apart and it should have a carrying system that is comfortable so that you can carry the bag on your back for a few days. I write should because if you are planning to use vehicles during an evacuation a trunk or travel bag could do just as fine as a backpack or even be a more suitable alternative.

    A new high quality backpack from companies like Norrona, Berghaus, Klättermusen or high quality military style backpack with Molle Attachments and some additional pockets may set you back hundreds of dollars. An old high quality hiking bag or military surplus bag may offer the same function as new bag for only a fraction of the price. Another method could be to search E-bay and the second hand market for products. It’s important that you can keep the gear inside the bag dry, having waterproof compression bags is an excellent alternative but they are rather expensive. Normal heavy duty trash bags provide some protection for equipment and come at a very low cost.

    Survival Knife
    A knife is one of the most important survival tools you can have during a survival situation. It’s important that the knife you choose can perform the tasks that you require it to. A high quality survival knife can be a very expensive investment costing hundreds of dollars. Some of the best cheap knives available come from the Swedish company Mora. Mora makes knives with high quality but still with a reasonable price, you can find a good knife from this company for 10-30 dollar depending on what model you choose. If you want a larger knife you can find Machetes with a reasonable cost.

    What kind of shelter you need depends on your local terrain, your climate and the time of the year. For cold weather conditions it can be very hard to make it without a sleeping bag and sleeping mattress but in warmer climates you can make it with less shelter. No matter the situation you should have some kind of shelter that can shield you from wind and rain. A second hand tent might be bought cheap. A Light Weight Tarp does not cost many dollars but even a Shower Curtain may used. If you use a tarp you need some kind of rope or Paracord that can allow you to secure it properly.

    High quality Flashlights from companies like Fenix or 4Sevens can provide great light in a compact format but for most situations a cheaper flashlight will do just as well. The Old AA or AAA flashlights from Maglite, a cheap LED light or a Shake Light is sufficient for most situations. Simple key chain lights can sometimes be given away for free by companies and other organizations.

    High quality water bottles from companies like Nalgene and SIGG are both light weight and strong but comes at a hefty price. There are cheaper copies of these bottles that perform just as well, another alternative can be military surplus water bottles. If you want a really cheap alternative soda bottles will perform well in most situations, just get the most solid type of bottle you can find. A water purification filter is useful but often quite expensive. Coffee filters is cheap and can be used to filter water, bleach can be used to sterilize water if you do not have the time or means of boiling the water.

    Ordinary Matches is one of the easiest methods to build a fire. Make sure that they stay dry by storing them in a plastic bag. Simple BIC lighters are also a cheap and reliable method to start a fire, buying a few boxes of matches and lighter is a relatively cheap investment. Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline are a cheap way to improvise tinder.

    Cooking and Food
    An alcohol stove is quite cheap and effective solution since it provide both cooking vessels and stove in the same kit. An Esbit Stove is low price, low weight and can be used together with a simple cooking vessel. The Esbit tablet’s are also excellent tinder and fire starters. Freeze dried food is low weight, takes up little space and is very practical if you can find water in your local terrain. The main drawback is the high cost of these rations. Rice, Pasta, Lentils and Oatmeal stored in a Waterproof Container works well for food during a hike even if the solution is not as practical as freeze dried food in portion sized bags. Tea Bags, Sugar, Salt, Canned Food, Peanut Butter, Raisins are other types of food that can be used for an evacuation food kit.

    Make sure to include some Soap and Toilet Paper in your pack. Toilet Paper can also be used as tinder to start a fire. Washing Up Liquid can be used as soap, to clean clothing and wash your cooking vessels.

    Other Equipment
    A Map and Compass are vital tools that allow you to navigate and find your way in your local terrain. A top graphical map is the best but a road map, city map that you can find for free or a printed map from the internet is better than nothing at all. A compass is a very important tool and I do not recommend that you get a low quality model that does perform or risk breaking. Decent quality compasses from Silva can be found for around 10-20 dollars. First Aid Kits is important to have if you would hurt yourself or have to provide care for someone else, complete kits can often be found cheap at supermarkets or as military surplus. A simple pen and some paper in a waterproof bag can be used to make notes and leave messages.

    Testing the equipment
    The only of telling for sure if you’re Bug Out Bag will work or not is to test it. Your items do not have to perform perfectly as long as they provide what you need. Buying second hand equipment like backpacks and clothing presents risks since the bag may break in a critical situation. By testing the equipment before a real crisis situation you will get a better understanding of what the equipment may do for you and most importantly learn how to use it. Backpacks or clothing may need repairs or be maintained, by carting a small sewing kit, a tube of superglue duct tape and paracord you can repair equipment and clothing if this would become necessary.

    [ ] Backpack or Bag

    [ ] Clothing:
    • Extra base layer or T-shirt
    • Warm long sleeve shirt
    • Socks
    • Cap or Hat

    [ ] Heavy duty plastic bags to keep clothing and equipment dry

    [ ] Some form of Shelter (Tent or Tarp)
    If the climate makes is necessary a sleeping bag or blanket and sleeping mattress

    [ ] Survival Knife

    [ ] Equipment to build a fire
    • Matches in plastic bag
    • BIC lighter
    • Tinder

    [ ] Water
    • Water Bottles
    • Coffee Filters
    • Bleach in a small bottle

    [ ] Equipment for cooking
    • Stove
    • Cooking Vessels
    • Fuel
    • Cup
    • Plastic Plate
    • P-38 Can Opener
    • Fork and Spoon

    [ ] Food
    • Rice, pasta, noodles, lentils, canned food or peanut butter
    • Teabags and Sugar
    • Salt and Pepper

    [ ] Hygiene
    • Soap
    • Toilet paper in waterproof bag
    • Washing up liquid and Mop
    • Toothbrush, Tooth paste and Dental Floss

    [ ] Repair kit: Sewing kit, Super glue, Duct Tape and Paracord

    [ ] Map and Compass

    [ ] Pen and Paper

    [ ] First Aid Kit

    People have survived in the wilderness for thousands of years without the comforts that modern clothing and high tech fabrics provide. The market for outdoors equipment is very big and you can find very useful high quality items, but these often come at a high cost. Keeping the cost down for Bug Out Bag does not have to be very complicated but might require some research in order to find the items required. By choosing cheaper products and solution you can quite easily build multi kits for the price you would otherwise have to pay for a single Bug Out Bag. This can also be a good alternative if you want to have an extra kit in your Vehicle, at a secondary location or if you want to build a kit for another family member. This post can also be used as inspiration if you want to put together a kit for hiking, hunting or camping activities.

    So what is your best advice and tips for those how are trying to build a kit on a budget?

    The Free Online Survival Guide
  2. Barefoot343

    Barefoot343 liberalville Active Member

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    mmmm... good stuff. I am making a list of things I need to do right now and this is on the list.

    sadly I am very late to the game and have very little money. Trying to do what I can.

    thanks fo posting this
  3. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    Your welcome! Don’t despair, take it easy and take it step by step. Since you are on a budget you are more motivated to get it right the first time. Look at the broad perspective before you get too caught up in details. Water, Food, Cooking Solutions, First Aid and Medicine, Light, Emergency Sanitation, having an emergency Budget and Insurance to name a few fields.

    You can find some more advice in the articles “Get the ability to cope with a crisis” and “Survivalism for Dummies”.

    If you have any questions please feel free to ask.
  4. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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  5. The Cheese

    The Cheese somewhere special Member

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    Best advice, go slow and shop for deals. Somethings I would not skimp on. Like on a water purifier, a back backing stove, knife (knives), and multi-tools. Also, the bag itself should be of high quality and durable in construction. Bonus points for being low profile, non-military looking. For simply bombproof, simple construction I like Jandd. For function and technical appeal I am a fan of the larger Dakine snow packs. they have lots of pockets and features to them that lend themselves quite well to survival situations. After all thats what they were designed for when in use in the back country. After that its just find stuff that works and like I said, shop sales and look for deals. Some stuff you won't be able to get much of a deal on, but if you are savvy you can do this on the inexpensive, not the cheap.
  6. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    As far as waterproof bags.. get a pack of the heavy duty contractor trash bags from a home improvement store.. they can also be used to make an emergency shelter if you have some heavy twine or 550 cord and some heavy brush or trees nearby

    I've just assembled a BUG-out machete system with an Ontario machete and USGI sheath. It has everything needed to survive several days if I get separated from my main pack. I'll post it up sometime soon and list what it contains
  7. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    Thanks for all the additional advice! Nice list with prices TakeABreak. Survival Gear seems to be somewhat cheaper in the US compared to Scandinavia.
  8. ArgentineSteel

    ArgentineSteel Vancouver, WA Active Member

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    Boy Scouts. Join a troop and prepare for a 50 mile hike. They'll teach you what to pack and what to leave. Get on the trail with your gear and try it out.
  9. Westfalia

    Westfalia The North Member

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    Thanks TakeABreak! I guess that we have a number of scouts here ArgentineSteel, not a bad place to learn. Semper paratus.
  10. gunslinger1911

    gunslinger1911 WA state Member

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    so just outa curiosity, combining your list with his...whats that pack weigh?
  11. speelyei

    speelyei Willamette Valley Active Member

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    I am always surprised by these posts, since to me they seem heavy on the "have" and light on the "know".

    If a person isn't already backpacking, orienteering, hunting, mountain climbing, hiking, rafting, etc... why would they think performing these same activities will be easier during some sort of collapse? Granted, you are unlikely to summit Mt Hood or raft the Deschutes after the EMP shuts down the grid... but the considerations are the same. Overland travel, inclement weather, self reliance, expectations of self and gear...
    I have seen a lot of these lists over the years, and they're fine for sure. But all the hemming and hawing would be put to rest by simply taking a couple week long backpacking trips.

    Furthermore, used is an excellent resource. Goodwill, Next Adventure, the yearly Mazamas sale... these are excellent places to pick up high end mountaineering and outdoor gear for pennies on the dollar. Some mil-surp stuff is cool, but a lot of it pales in comparison to recreational gear.

    And one thing on the list I'd call attention to: blue jeans? Yeah, maybe in dry weather...