Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's in Your Zombie Pack? Part 1

Zombie Pack. Bug Out Bag. Heck, some might just call it Camping Gear for the End of the World kit.Call it what you will.  Millions of people already have one. Do you? You should.

I guess it isn't for everyone, but even avid campers should have one. although a lot of the things in a Zombie Pack deal with personal protection, most of it is survival gear....and survival gear by another name is just camping gear.

What is a Zombie Pack? I googled it and it was mostly movies. So, I tried "Bug Out Bag".

 Well, go google it. What do you find?
According to the End all Be all of information:
 A bug-out bag[1][2] is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours[3][4] when evacuating from a disaster. It is also known as a 72-hour kit,[5] a grab bag,[6] a battle box, and other popular names include "Personal Emergency Relocation Kits" (PERKs) GO Bag and GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge)[7] bag. The focus is on evacuation, rather than long-term survival, distinguishing the bug-out bag from a survival kit, a boating or aviation emergency kit, or a fixed-site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalism subculture.[8]

The top returned links are all about what to keep in your bug out bag or buying someone Else's bug out bag. So, I clicked through a few of the links. HOLY COW! You can spend a lot of money! Like, in the THOUSANDS! Most of the kits hover around $800. That's a lot of cheddar where I come from!

Pulling one of the AVERAGE $800 dollar kit's equipment lists, I notice that while it's a nice kit and very complete, it's actual worth is about 3/4 of what you are paying for it. Convienience fees. And, to be honest, making your own kit...to your specifications, is half the fun!

So, if you have one, what's in yours?
If you don't have one, what should be?

I have been through several iterations of my Zombie Pack. It isn't the perfect kit. Not in the slightest. But, it's a kit. You are limited by space and weight. You also are limited on just what skills you possess and deem worthy. So, I talk about what started in my first kit, it's iterations, what CURRENTLY is in the kit, what I want in the future and why.

My first iteration of the kit was made up of a spare school-type backpack that was given to me filled with items stolen from inside the house. I also had a 50 gallon tote with other items. The kit possessed:
  • Box of .45 caliber rounds, as I didn't have spare magazines
  • Box of 20 gauge shotgun shells
  • Box of kitchen matches
  • Cheap double edged match
  • hand mallet
  • plastic sacks
  • bottle of water
  • Change of clothes (with gloves, boots, and 'boggin)
  • Cans of soup
Inside the tote, I had:
  • pots and pans
  • lighter logs
  • lighter fluid
  • lighters
  • utensils
  • big tent
  • 1 gallon bucket
However, this kit....though it was a step in the right direction and better than nothing, was severely lacking in both critical items and the efficiency of those I did have. Even in the pack itself wasn't very robust....after being thrown around, it started to rip. And, you can't very well carry a tote through post-apocalyptic America. On the inside, I was woefully plagued with inefficiency. The knife was a cheap knife. Kitchen matches don't work when wet. Canned products are mostly water, and therefor, dead weight. As far as personal protection, I was extremely limited. I had no long range weapon. The 20 gauge, while perfectly fine...isn't nearly as common as the 12. So, if you needed shells in a pinch, the 12 is far superior because you can walk into any house in America and find them. The .45 is a great gun, specifically my 1911. It's got several war's worth of experience to back it up. .45 is VERY common and it has incredible knock down power. But, it's a heavy gun. It's limited on ammo capacity. And, since at the time, it was my primary weapon...that's not good.  If I did get in firefight, reloading magazines from a box would be death. Literally.

I put this kit together while I was in college. When I got out, I had a LITTLE more money, so I upgraded some things while maintain much of what was already there.

  • Better "heavy duty" bag
  • Bought multiple .45 mags
  • Bought a Gerber Machete
  • Bought a Smith's Arkansas stone for sharpening knives
  • swapped the mallet for a hatchet (can be used as a hammer AND hatchet)
  • Bought Hyfire flashlight
  • Bought water purification pills
  • Bought Nylon Rope
  • Added TONS of little items like: duct tape, JB Weld, fishing hooks and line
  • Thermal blanket
  • Hot hands
So, some of the pieces that I knew I wanted were in place, yet the pack still had gaping holes in areas. I still had no food (kinda a big deal), no way of transporting water (i didn't want to carry it...more on that later), instantaneous shelter, no way of starting a fire, no utensils if I DID have food, and then the two BIG areas...personal protection and first aid. We will address the personal protection later, but it's worth noting that you DO have to carry it and it's ammo. And, I didn't really like the current pack would do. I had nothing except super glue for first aid. Yes, I said Super Glue. Go research it's original use. It's inevitable that you will be hurt in post-apocalyptic America, so you better have the ability to fix yourself!

Well, as luck would have it, I had a LITTLE spare money laying around, so I started revamping the BOB.
I added:

First thing I wanted to address was the bag. This spare bag I had was OK, but wouldn't be good to haul around. So, I spec'd out this guy. It's a BADDD Mamma Jamma.

 Then there's the food. Turns out that these shows have done wonders for the ease of finding Surplus gear, not to mention a niche market that is now being filled by manufactures. So, I came across http://beprepared.com

While they did have a deluxe 72 hour kit, I didn't want to pay double for items I wanted to get on my own. So, I bought their 72 hour food kit:
http://beprepared.com/product.asp?pn=KX M003
Here is the contents of it. Pretty slick. I can't wait to try it!

Contents of 3-Day MRE Food Supply


Qty Main Entrée 9 Side Dish 3 Dessert 3 Drink Mix 3 Bread/Cracker 6 Peanut Butter 2 Jam Packet 2 Cheese Packet 1 Hard Candy 3

The rest of the items are pretty standard issue from amazon, I just listed these two because I thought they were especially cool.

That brings us the whole point of this post. What's in your pack and why? I would suggest taking an objective look at yourself and your abilities...or shortcomings. What can you do and what can't you do? If you had to take 100% and separate it between food, shelter, and protection, how would you divide it? Me? 70% protection, 15% for each food and shelter. No, that doesn't mean that I don't think I need the two latter. They just aren't that important to me IN REGARDS TO THE BOB.

My general philosophy on survival, in regards to the BOB, is that I can provide for myself long term. I just have to stay alive and effective short term.  Food and shelter, as the overview shows, are just as important as protection. But, feeding myself and housing myself aren't my concerns in the long term. I can do that. That might be anything from scavenging for food to growing it, from squatting in a house or building a shelter. But, personal protection and speed is my main concern. I need to be able to quickly and easily get to where I need to go...while effectively protecting myself. Now, I do know plenty of people that ONLY pack weapons and ammo. I wanted to avoid that and at least have enough items to "go to ground" for a few days.

How about you?  If you don't have the ability to hunt for yourself, or scavenge, then food may be your philosophy...so go heavy on the food. I bet you can get 2 weeks of food in your BOB pretty easy.

If shelter is your thing, you might carry a lot of fire starting items and a large robust tent, although I think we all see the potential problems with concentrating on this.

There are a lot of combinations of the 3 out there...so don't limit yourself.

Another thing to consider is your physical location...where you are and where you are going. If you live in an arid area, water is far more important, and although it's heavy, it is worth having. So, you may have to unload a few items...like your tool kit, which may be of no use in a desert. If you are headed to a densely populated area, food may be easy to come by, but personal protection may not. Especially if it's covered with zombies. So, go heavy on the ammo. If you live in Alaska...you may want to take nothing but shelter and clothes.

So, now we are down with the 1-Liners. You see what I have and why. So, what are the overarching things to consider? This list is FAR from all encompassing. But, these are the things I think of
  • RULE NUMBER 1: Can you physically carry your pack?
  • RULE NUMBER 2: Keep that pack handy and always take it with you (if you can). I know it sounds silly, but you may not be on the couch watching football when it happens.
  • What's your #1 fear? Starving, freezing, or getting shot. Whatever the greatest of those is...prepare for it.
  • Practice makes perfect. Take your kit out and use it. Just take it camping. It will show you what you have that you don't need and what you need and don't have.
  • Revise it once a year. Consider WHY you have something and if it's worth humping across the country
  • Can you use everything in your pack? Would you?
  • Build the pack for where you are going. A pack with a ton of food isn't really needed in the suburbs, is it? But a tool kit to break into Wal-Mart sure would provide food for a long time.
  • Know where you are going, why, and what you need when you get there
  • The greater knowledge and skill you have, the lighter that pack will become or the more equipment you can bring. For example:  If you know how to find good water and purify it, you don't have to carry water with you...or the tools to purify what water you do find. So, read up and practice.
The whole deal with the BOB is that you are limited to JUST WHAT'S IN THE BAG. Remember, you are going to pick this bag up and run. In it is all the tools to survive for a FINITE amount of time. So, what's in there better be important...and more importantly, you better know how to use it...or be willing to use it. A gun does you know good if you can't or won't use it. Same can be said for that field surgeon kit I bought. You better know where you are and where you are headed....which will be the subject of a future post. Until then!