So far we have covered the DIY “Altoids Tin” survival kit, a Military Issue Survival Kit, and a “Complete” store-bought survival kit, in this article we will cover an example of a larger DIY Survival Kit, that is part Bug Out Bag, part Survival Kit.
We looked at, and tested, many “off the shelf” Bug Out Bag/Survival Kits some of which were actually fairly comprehensive. Where we found issue with just about all of them was the quality of the gear in them.
Fully 99% of it was cheaply made chinese gear that didn’t last more than a few hours and in more than one case broke on its first use. We decided that we would put together a Bug Out Bag/Survival Kit that was full of gear that we could depend on should the need arise and that is what the article is about.
We wanted a bag that was compact, yet large enough to hold everything we felt we’d need if TSHTF and we had to get out of Dodge in a hurry, a bag that we could carry over a shoulder, by hand, or attached to our tactical vest via MOLLE webbing, and it had to be made so it would stand up to rigorous use.
We went through our inventory of bags and decided we’d build our DIY Bug Out Bag/Survival Kit around the Voodoo Tactical Enhanced 3 way Deployment bag.
It fit the criteria outlined above to a tee. It was compact,had multiple options for carrying, and is constructed of 1000 denier nylon with a water-resistant lining for many years of rough use.
What’s Inside the Bag
Now that we had the “bag” part of our Bug Out Bag/Survival Kit it was time to decide what to fill it with. We decided early on that we were going to use Mil-Spec gear whenever we could and only US made gear when we couldn’t.
We broke the bag down into parts:
- First Aid
- Tools & Cordage
If you ask 100 preppers what they think should be in the food component of a Bug Out Bag/Survival Kit you will get 100 different answers, because everyone has an opinion on what “the Best” food source for survival is.
For our kit we went with Mainstay® Survival Rations, by Survivor Industries, because they are lightweight, easy to carry, portion controlled, had a long shelf life, and was Mil-Spec (Coast Guard Approved) for our “primary” 72 hour food source.
We opted for three 1200 calorie packs instead of the single 3600 calorie pack because if we were able to gather fresh meat for a few days we wouldn’t have to worry about spoilage or vermin getting into the remaining portions, cost wise this option worked out to only a few pennies more.
We added a few pieces of “Hard Candy”, some coffee, sugar, creamer, soup packets, bouillon cubes, and hot cocoa to round out the “Food” we would carry in the bag.
A Mil-Spec folding stove with fuel tabs was added for heating a quick cup of coffee or cocoa on the go or for heating food when building a fire might not be the best idea.
To argument the food we would carry in the bag we added a fishing kit and snare wire so we could gather fresh meat if we had to.
We attached a surplus canteen carrier with 1 qt canteen and canteen cup we had lying around to the MOLLE webbing on the bag as a quick access water source and so we would have a means of boiling any water we had to.
Inside the bag we added a Mil-Spec 1- liter survival water bag, Chlor-Floc water purification powder (Mil-Issue), and as a backup Coleman water purification tablets and the Chlorine neutralizer tablets.
Where we live high in the Rockies, fire can literally mean the difference between life and death. Even during the summer months we experience lows in the 30’s many nights, especially above 9500 feet.
Having a fire not only keeps you warm and prevents, or at least mitigates, hypothermia it gives you a huge psychological boost. Fire has long kept the “beasties” that prowl the night at bay, provided a sense of comfort in the night, cooked our food, and been a ready source of light on the darkest of nights.
We believe in having primitive fire starting skills but we don’t advocate that you rely solely on those skills for fire starting if TSHTF and you really need a fire to stay alive. For that reason we included three means of fire starting in our bag.
- Mil-Issue Storm Matches
- Mil-Issue Firesteel
- Mini Bic® Lighter
- Mil-Issue Tinder Quik®
- UST WetFire® Tinder
By having at least three means of starting a fire you greatly increase your chances of getting a fire going even under the most adverse conditions.
Having a dry place to sit while you contemplate your next move can do more for your survival than many people can fathom. We thought long and hard about what we would include in the shelter component of our kit before deciding on a four layer approach.
We found a US made tube tent that would hold two people plus gear that we could roll, fold, and squeeze down small enough to fit snugly in the bag. We could cut the tent into sections if needed for use as a water/weather proofing ground cover or roofing underlayment on a lean-to.
As part two of our three-step “system” we lashed a lightweight Frogg Togg® poncho to the bottom of the bag that could be used to keep dry while moving, a ground cover, or as overhead cover.
Part three of our system was the inclusion of plenty of Mil-Spec Type III 550 cord so we could make shelter if needed.
The last part of our “system” was the inclusion of a Mil-Issue “Survival Blanket” so we could keep warm on those nights when a fire might not be such a good idea.
Since all of us at Vanguard Survival are either EMT’s, Paramedics, Combat Medics, or Combat Lifesavers with lots of real world experience in both 911 systems and combat zones around the world the first aid component of our kit got a lot of debate on what should and shouldn’t be in it.
We finally settled on a first aid component that could treat the most common cause of death, next to hypothermia and hyperthermia, you’ll encounter in a SHTF situation, trauma.
Since space was an issue we decided that we would add the following to our first aid component so we could quickly stop any bleeding and seal wounds as well as take care of the minor and annoying boo-boo’s you always seem to get even on a leisurely day hike.
- 2-Bloodstopper Gauze
- 2- 25 gram Celox® Packets
- Various sized Band-Aids®
- 2″ Ace® Bandage
- Waterproof Medical Tape
- “Super Glue”
- 1 Israeli Bandage
- Triple Antibiotic Ointment
- OTC Pain Relievers
- Imodium AD®
- Wound Cleanse® Pads
- 2 Pair Nitrile Gloves
Tools and Cordage
This component of our kit includes compasses, multi-tools, knives, and 550 cord among other things that didn’t fit in the other components of the kit.
The tools we included in our kit consist of the Gerber Diesel® Multi-Tool, Gerber Bear Grylls® Fixed Blade Survival Knife, a Gerber Applegate/Fairbairn Combat Folder®, and a Military Issue Wire Saw.
We added a Mil-Spec lensatic compass and a Mil-Issue “Button Compass” for navigation (not shown).
For repairing gear we added a repair kit that consists of:
- 180′ of 188# test Kevlar thread
- Various sewing needles
- 6 Safety Pins
- Needle Threader
- 6-Heavy-Duty “Zip-Ties”
- 25′ 100 mph Tape
Cordage consists of 50′ of Mil-Spec Type III 550 cord and 25′ of Mil-Spec Type 1A Utility Cord.
A pair of work gloves finishes out the Tools and Cordage part of the kit (not shown).
This component is actually a very subjective part of the kit and like survival kits and bug out bags in general there are as many varying opinions as there are people on this rock, this is simply our take on what would fit in with the purpose of this kit, small and compact.
As the name implies we wanted to have something in the kit that could be used to defend what we had should the need arise but not be so bulky as to defeat the purpose of the kit so after much debate we settled on .22 caliber for our “defensive” component.
The small size of .22 allows you to carry more of it than say 5.56, (we packed 250 rounds of .22 Hollow Point Ammo into our kit without any trouble), it can be used to help gather small game, and if you place your shots correctly you can most certainly deter if not eliminate any threats to your continued well-being.
With addition of an AR-7, 10-22, or other quality .22 you have a nice little food gathering/defensive set up.
While this is by no means the be all, end all of compact Bug Out Bags it is an economical option that is affordable on just about any budget. It is full of Mil-Spec, Mil Issue, or US made gear that we have torture tested under real world conditions and not the cheaply made Chinese crap most of the “Complete Bug Out Bags” come stocked with.
It fits nicely in the trunk of your car or behind the seat of your pick up. It can be attached to any MOLLE equipped vest or pack if you want, you can just grab it by the handle and go, or toss it over your shoulder with the strap included with the bag.
I look forward to seeing your comments and as always, Train to Survive!
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